Arsenal 0-2 Bayern: Two goals. Really? Is that all?

After nearly going blind reading of how magnificent Bayern are and how they’ve steamrolled their way to 46 consecutive wins in the Bundesliga, and after doing my best to ignore headline after headline that bleated something about the first leg from last year, I had all but backed myself into a corner, fearing yet another hiding at the feet of these beastly Bavarians. For as much as I had tried to convince myself otherwise, the small but insistent voices kept whining away at me. Turns out it was my kids asking me to stop with all the reading and the typing. Having put them to bed, I could then hear the voice inside my own head warning me of how catastrophic the match would turn out to be when, for the second time in little more than ten days, we’d be utterly humiliated and exposed as the frauds we are.

Now, Mr. Robben, in this scene, fall like a man whose
leg was been shattered in a million pieces. Ready?

It didn’t come off that way. Well, not as badly as it was made out to, at least. While Bayern came out firing and very nearly scored straight off, so too did we, not least of which was a spot-kick that Özil squandered. Arsène, perhaps optimistically, suggested that we could have gone up 3-0. We certainly had chances and could very well have seized the day.

That is, until Arjen Robben, the Divey Dutchman, had to go and ruin things. The contact and the foul were there, clear as day, but it rankled me to see him twirl, flop, and writhe so much. I can see a penalty-kick awarded, and a yellow for the keeper, but it seemed clear enough that Szczesny was going for the ball to the same extent that Robben was. Still, the rule is there. It’s a crummy rule. Then again, we were smirking at Liverpool’s irritation at Webb just a few days ago, so I’m not going to complain much now, other than to suggest that the rule might merit some reconsideration. At any rate, Alaba missed the kick, offering some slight consolation that we still had a clean-sheet.

What’s more, the vaunted juggernaut that is Bayern was left scrounging for goals from the penalty-spot—and failed. Yes, they had created a few other chances by that point, but it wasn’t really until they had the man-advantage that the tide turned in their favor. That’s right. The most wonderfullest, super-snazziest,systematic, hydromatic, ultramatic team in the world needed a man-advantage to score goals against us. They were brilliant goals, don’t get me wrong, but even more than Özil’s missed PK, I rued Szczesny getting sent off because that changed the game. Ruined it, in fact, and I don’t say that because my side got the shaft. It was a nervy, pulsing match to that point, but it became rather drab afterwards as Bayern probed and passed around until the perfect opportunities presented themselves.

So we lost 0-2. The margin is exactly the same as it was a year ago, as is our task in the second leg if we hope to advance. However, the impact of today’s result—for me, at least—is a disinterested shrug. Not because I’d crossed the Champions League from my list of priorities even before this fixture but because I expected so much more from Bayern. After reloading with Guardiola, Alcantara, and Götze, they are arguably stronger than they were last year.

So what if they are? They’ve caught us at a tentative moment in our own season, and, on top of that, we lost Gibbs on the half-hour and were already without Walcott, we started a 21-year old former Ligue 2 striker with just one other top-flight start to his name, and we played nearly an hour with only ten men. Was 0-2 really the best that Bayern could come up with? Were they content to play keep-away from us, cocksure in the knowledge that we couldn’t match up with them? Not if their 26 shots have any say in the matter. I’m sorry, Bayern, but I’m not wowed, cowed, or worried by this result. In fact, I think it’s you who are worried—or should be. Despite the considerable advantages handed to you, you’ve come away exactly as you did last year when we were in a shambles. You could have put us away. You should have snuffed us out, once and for all. Another goal, and the fat lady wouldn’t either bother singing.

Instead, you’ve invited us, reminded us, even, that we can look forward to the second leg. When we last came to Allianz Arena, remember, we were not the team that we are now. We know better what we’re capable of, thanks in part to that victory but also to all of the other wins we’ve amassed since then. No, we’re not obliterating opponents in the Prem as you are doing in the Bundesliga. Somehow, I do wonder if you’re feasting on small fries, getting fat and soft around the edges. I don’t think you have what it takes to have won at the Emirates, eleven-on-eleven. I guess we’ll just have to see if you have what it takes to win at Allianz Arena. That’s a question both of us already know the answer to, whether you like it or not.

You may have won this battle, but you’ve started a war. We’re not the dispirited, defeated squad that left the pitch forlornly after losing by two goals a year ago. Not by a country mile. Round One goes to you on points. Round Two, I’d wager, might see us win by a knockout.

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13 thoughts on “Arsenal 0-2 Bayern: Two goals. Really? Is that all?

  1. Anonymous

    those bavarian bastards can sneak away but they can't feel like the better team won. too bad we conceded that 2nd goal though, we should of been sitting back and hold it to 0-1. i bet we can go in to the 2nd leg and make them sweat even more than last time, maybe even win on aggregate!

  2. Anonymous

    I say unleash OX.If Arsenal can score the first goal,the Bavarians will be worried. I think OZil has to be dropped for the returnleg. Hopefully Ramsey will be back.

  3. Anonymous

    Why was it only a yellow card? You must have read Poll's article. It was a clear scoring opportunity, and the rules dictate that it is a sending off.

  4. Anonymous

    Jon, I've been a passive follower of your blog since your missus recommended it to me and have come to respect your opinion on arsenal fc. However, I have to say that there's no harm in just calling it at it is. Robben was fouled by WS and no player, regardless of how clean s/he plays, would have continued that play given the amount of contact, speed at which it occurred and nature of the game. While I commend Arsenal for holding their own against Bayern for 50 mins, it will be helpful if Arsenal and Wenger especially can actually bounce back and learn a thing or two from that game. Bayern hasn't gotten to their current status without exhibiting tactical genius and ruthless execution. Rather than try to downplay that Bayern performance it will be in arsenal's favour if we looked objectively at the performance and asked questions such as what are the qualities that we are lacking to play on the same level as Bayern? What other dimensions can we add to our game? Can we actually play this same brand of intelligent, effective, attacking football? For instance, can we execute the various intricate moves that led to the penalty – Robben running from deep uncontested to meet the lobbed pass while defenders were focused on other strikers or the move that led to the second goal – Gotze's running drew Mertesacker away from a position where he would have been able to attack the cross that led to Muller's goal. There are positives to be taken from the game but the bottomline at the end of the day is results. Top sides get results, and consistently too. Bayern (and Barca at the Etihad) had a job to do and they did it. Hopefully, we will bounce back from this, put excuses aside and sometime soon play the kind of football that will prevent a 5-1 spanking from a rival team or a home defeat in a competitive game such as in the CL knockout stage. It'll do more good than harm to try to stay objective and then maybe we will someday be the envy of other teams and fans from around the world. From a former msit student with love, au revoir!

  5. Anonymous

    I should've been more clear. I know full-well that the rule dictates the red. What I was trying to argue was that the rule should change. Even Neuer said the same, saying “this should not be a red card for the keeper. Arsenal was punished enough for the penalty.”

  6. Anonymous

    Thanks for weighing in! I'll have to thank the missus for putting you on to the site! I agree that Robben was fouled. There's no question about it. I winced as I considered what could have happened to his knee. Part of my objection comes from personal experience–I'm a little guy (5'6″ or 1.7m) and played in a league in which many opposition players were American football rejects who needed to stay in shape, so they played proper football. As a result, I was frequently up against guys closer to 6' or 1.8-1.9m and twice my weight. I learned to stay up regardless of how hard I was fouled because the calls didn't come often enough for me to go down. This has bred in me an almost irrational disdain for diving, even for theatrics when fouled. In this case, I wish there was a simple yellow as Szcz was making a play for the ball. Contrast that against a cynical take-down from behind where no play for the ball is made. The penalty-kick should be penalty enough, in my opinion.As to Bayern's quality, they do play brilliant football. At the risk of falling back to a tired position, they can afford to. They may not come across as aggressive as Chelsea or Man City, but their wage-bill and transfer-deficit are sizable. I'm eager to see how FFP changes things, in part because we're one of the few competitive clubs that have not gone deep into deficits (or drawn in outside funding from owners) to acquire players.Thanks for the visit, and I hope you'll come around again. Not au revoir, then, but a bientot!

  7. Anonymous

    Come on. Bayern completely owned you guys.Outside the opening 10 minutes at no point did Arsenal look like they had a foothold in this match.Maybe Arsenal would bounce back but this was not a good performance.Scz's foul was definite DOGSO , so red , those are the rules,

  8. Anonymous

    I never denied the foul, and I'm not the only one critiquing the rule. I'd agree that even before the red card, we looked like we were on the back-foot, but I'd wager that the fallout from Ozil's PK was just as much to blame as BM's quality. However, it looked like we'd go into halftime 0-0, 11v11, and from that point, it could have gone either way.

  9. Anonymous

    I agree with you that a penalty and a yellow for Szcz should have sufficed but the current rules state that such an act should be met with an expulsion. The same punishment would have been dished out to Szcz's opposite number had he executed the same action on the Ox or Ozil or Sanogo. The way I see it, we should direct the disappointment of the red card at the guys in Zurich and also ask how Arsenal can transition from being a top 16 team in Europe to playing a high level of enterprising, attacking, effective football such that we can match the likes of Bayern, Barca, City and so on (sorta like Dortmund of last year or so).Regards to everyone in Evanston, a bientot!


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