Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 3: Lessons as visitors exert their dominance
Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 3: What lessons did we learn after the Gunners' Champions League ambitions were severely dented?
Visitors knock wind out of Arsenal sails
The smoke from a flare set off moments before kick-off at Emirates Stadium could have been mistaken for the dark cloud left hanging by Saturday’s shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Blackburn Rovers. But the lingering air of discontent from that loss soon looked to be lifting as Arsenal made a bright start to this last-16 tie. Theo Walcott, deployed in a central striking role, was the architect of the Gunners’ early dominance as Arsene Wenger’s men looked to take the game to the visitors. But Bayern’s opener just seven minutes in swung the momentum firmly in the Bundesliga side’s favour. Thomas Mueller fired in a low cut-back and Toni Kroos’s powerful first-time effort left Wojciech Szczęsny with no chance. The goal injected the visitors with vigour and Bayern were quick to take control of proceedings. Mueller doubled the German side’s advantage and silenced The Emirates in the 21st minute by volleying in the rebound after woeful Arsenal defending from a corner left Daniel Van Buyten with a free header.
Stroke of luck hands hosts a lifeline
Arsenal were simply swept aside before the break as they managed a miserly two shots on target. But Wenger’s men were handed a large slice of luck in the 55th minute when referee Svein Oddvar Moen pointed for a corner despite the ball clearly coming off Lukas Podolski. Bayern, who had not conceded a goal in 664 minutes of open play, completely switched off as Jack Wilshere swung his corner into the box. Manuel Neuer was caught in two minds and Podolski was on hand to nod into the empty net to inject some much-needed confidence back into the Gunners’ play. Aaron Ramsey had suggested before Tuesday’s game that Arsenal have too often lacked the self-belief needed to challenge for major honours, a defect evident in the first half following Kroos’s opener. But Arsenal should not be left needing a slice of luck to reignite the players’ and fans’ faith, as was the case here.
Gunners need a Munich Miracle as Bayern show strength in depth
After pulling one back, Arsenal managed to drag themselves back into the game and were finally able to show some attacking intent. Substitute Olivier Giroud came closest to netting a second for the north Londoners but his first-time shot from Walcott’s cross was straight at Neuer. The Gunners continued to ask questions of their opponents but Bayern Munich put themselves firmly back in control of the tie in the 77th minute as they netted a scrappy third. Arjen Robben – who was only a 62nd-minute substitute in north London – linked up nicely with Mario Mandzukic. Robben fed Phillip Lahm, whose cross was bundled home by Mandzukic. The fact that Bayern were able to throw on Mario Gomez, who scored 41 goals in all competitions last season, and Holland international Robben, highlights the depth of quality at Jupp Heynckes’ disposal. Arsenal will head to Munich in just over three weeks’ time with an enormous task on their hands.