The evening was set on Wednesday 15 February 2017, the fans, the media, the pundits had all labelled Arsenal as a strong, yet sometimes flailing team of players, who have also been labelled the best Arsenal team since 2004. With the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, and the new recruits Mustafi and Xhaka, the potential to reach great heights is there. So in yet another champions league tie, Arsenal face Bayern in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.
The game started as all games this season have started for Arsenal. Slow. The players do not look like they want to be there, with the exception of Alexis Sanchez. They start like they’re playing a Sunday League match after being on the boozer the night before. Poor defending from Gibbs allows Robben to take Bayern ahead with the first goal, just 12 minutes into the first half. The lack of care from the majority of the Arsenal players is evident, regardless of the equalizer just before half time, Arsenal do not have the minerals to fight against competitors like Bayern, they can’t even beat teams like Watford and Bournemouth when it matters most.
The teams came out after the break at a 1-1 tie, with Bayern having had 70% of possession. Arsenal fans all over the world are thinking, ‘we are in this, and it is possible’. Ignore the stats, what matters is that the teams are level coming into the second half, this is anyone’s game to win. Much to Arsenal’s dismay, Koscielny was substituted through injury and replaced by Gabriel Paulista. From that moment on, Thiago was dancing through the midfield, performing all kinds of madness, and thus allowing Bayern to get ahead by the 55th minute of the game. Just 5 minutes later the score was 4-1 and all was lost in the Arsenal camp. Goals from Lewandowski, 2 from Thiago, 1 from Robben and 1 from Muller made Arsenal’s defense look like they’d never played together before.
If Arsenal are to ever get past the last 16, what is needed? There’s no doubt Wenger has to go, 20 years is up, and the last 12 years has shown that he has lost his touch. The team has no energy and passion. If I was playing, I’d be the same, not winning any sort of respectable silverware since 2004 (FA cup IS NOT respectable), and in each season, the previous season just repeats itself, you would be bored playing at an ever average club. Get a new manager, and get rid of the slackers in the squad, go big in the transfer window and build a team that cares, and deserve to play with each other, and respect the players they are playing with. Free loaders like Walcott, Gibbs, Gabriel, Monreal all need to go. Dead wood is not what Arsenal need. Though lot of people would want to see Ozil leave, I think Arsenal would see an improvement in their man if he was surrounded by players of his capabilities, excellence creates excellence.
What do you think?
David Ospina – He had a good game, made some important saves, but could not have saved the opening goal from Robben. Arsenal could have lost 8-1 without him in the net, not that, that is any consolation.
Shkodran Mustafi – Good performance from him, calm and calculated in his challenges.
Laurent Koscielny – Great game before he was subbed, unbreakable when paired with Mustafi
Gabriel Paulista – An atrocious player, with absolutely no skill and no finesse. Thiago and Lewandowski danced around him like he wasn’t even there.
Kieran Gibbs – Awful game, was absolutely outclassed by Robben, and what more could you expect from a player that has only played 2 games for the first team this year.
Granit Xhaka – Average game for him, good attempt on goal which could have put Arsenal up, but otherwise, just another player that showed no passion.
Mesut Ozil – Lazy and non-existent throughout the whole game, offered nothing to Arsenal’s game.
Francis Coquelin – Attrocious game from the French national. He made only 7 passes in 7 minutes and made no successful tackles during his time on the pitch. Mohammed Elneny would have been a better bet to play in the holding midfield.
Alex Iwobi – Another player who did not turn up, he has potential to be a great player, but he is not yet at the stage he needs to be at, especially not up to the standards playing against a team like Bayern.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – I actually think he had a good game, he was making passes happen, creative, and gave some urgency to Arsenal’s game.
Alexis Sanchez – As always, one of the only players that shows he cares, the only player to run tirelessly throughout the game, regardless of the goal deficit against his team. He is bigger than Arsenal and needs to move on to win what he is entitled to.
Manuel Neuer – Didn’t really have much to do, saved a penalty in the first half but put it back in play for Sanchez to snatch the only goal for Arsenal. Overall, an easy game making some important saves from the shots of Xhaka and Sanchez.
Philip Lahm – Had a great game, boosted by the poor performance of Iwobi, he provided speed and aggression. Though he will miss out on the return fixture due to suspension from picking up a yellow card.
Mats Hummels – Offered a solid barrier, didn’t have much to do after the first half, but an overall good performance.
Martinez – Performed well also, again, didn’t have much to do following the break.
Alaba – Similarly to Lahm, he provided great speed to the already flailing Arsenal team
Xabi Alonso – Danced around Francis Coquelin like he wasn’t even there, Arsenal made him look 25 again with the moves he was pulling off on the pitch.
Vidal – Rather non-existent for me personally, I felt that he may as well not have been there, he didn’t particularly offer anything special, except 1 save from Ospina very early on.
Arjen Robben – Fantastic game, made better by the terrible defending from Gibbs.
Thiago Alcantara – Due to the non-existent Arsenal midfield, Thiago came into his own, dominating the centre of the pitch, and notching two goals for himself on the scoresheet.
Douglas Costa – Dominated the left flank, had a bit more competition with the likes of Bellerin marking him, could not out pace, but he could out-do, and out-do he did.
Lewandowski – Nothing to say, he was exceptional.