Arsenal started the first 10 minutes on fire. Yaya Sanogo, the surprise choice ahead of the troubled Olivier Giroud started brightly; winning headers, taking on players and keeping possession well. The whole team looked confident and we had half decent chances through Sanogo and Cazorla.
Then Özil won a penalty. This was our chance to take the lead against the reigning European champions.
Our red hot start to the game looked to have been rewarded.
But to my surprise, Mesut Özil was readying himself to take the kick. He had already missed a penalty kick against Marseille earlier this season after taking a very short run up and I said at the time that it looked lazy and it was a stupid way to take a penalty.
And unfortunately, he did exactly the same again.
The worst thing was that it wasn’t a surprise the penalty was saved. It obviously doesn’t work (at least not against the better goalkeepers) and it was a massive chanced missed to take an early stranglehold on the game.
After that as you would expect, Bayern had more possession and it was more of an even match, and Mathieu Flamini made a really excellent block from a half-volley which looked destined to go in.
Sanogo’s impressive start wasn’t restricted to the first 10 minutes as some excellent hold up play and a brilliant through ball almost saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain through on goal to score the opener. The young winger who was selected ahead of Tomas Rosicky looked full of confidence and wasn’t afraid to take on Dante whenever he could.
In the first half an hour, we showed the best team in Europe we were a match for them.
Unfortunately, Gibbs had to go off and Monreal came on. You all know how I feel about him, I think he’s useless defensively, a slight upgrade on Andre Santos. And apart from the fact he played in the games where we lost 6-3 to Manchester City and 5-1 to Liverpool, he was also up against one of the most intelligent footballers in game (according to Pep Guardiola) in Philip Lahm.
Once Monreal came on Bayern sensed they could open the scoring. Götze, Robben and Lahm were all the right side of the pitch, exploiting the space the Spanish left-back tends to leave. And within minutes of Monreal’s introduction his “influence” told and as he left Robben to go on a free run and Szczesny clipped the Bayern winger.
The decision to send of the goalkeeper for me, was a disgrace. Surely, it’s a penalty kick but surely a yellow card would suffice?
With Szczesny sent off, Fabianski came on and his first job was to face a penalty from Alaba. The Bayern midfielder opted to fizz it into the corner but got his angles slightly wrong as it hit the upright.
When you think things couldn’t have got any worse for Arsenal, it was a let off but we had the prospect of facing Bayern Munich with 10 men for 50 minutes.
We went in level at half time in a game which was not short of drama. We missed a penalty, we had a man sent off and then they missed a penalty. Robben was booed every time he touched the ball and it was hard to feel happy we hadn’t conceded a decisive away goal or gutted because we didn’t take the lead.
The positives at half time were the performances of Mathieu Flamini, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Yaya Sanogo. They were immense in the first 45 minutes and gave it everything they had.
The negatives were the performances of Nacho Monreal and Mesut Özil. Monreal isn’t a good defender by any stretch of the imagination and he was “supported” on the left hand side by Özil. A change at half time was needed if we weren’t going to concede in the second half. And then we come to the conundrum that is Özil. His style appears lazy and the penalty miss was a disgrace, and his third penalty miss in a row.
Maybe I’m being simplistic here, but what’s wrong with just smashing the fucking ball into the net?
As you would expect, Bayern attacked down our right hand side where the useless Monreal and Özil were “defending”. And the opening goal came from that position, where Robben and Kroos had the freedom of the city to knock the ball back and fourth. Kroos then curled a shot into the top corner and even on Twitter before they had even opened the scoring, I had predicted that Özil and Monreal would cost us the game.
Bayern were attacking so much on that side of the pitch that Bacary Sagna and Oxlade-Chamberlain were virtually spectators.
With half an hour remaining, Arsenal needed to make sure they didn’t concede another goal and be out of the tie completely.
As Monreal and Özil allowed Robben, Lahm and Gotze to dance around, it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before the German side doubled their lead.
It baffles me that when Tomas Rosicky did make his introduction with 20 minutes to go, it was Oxlade-Chamberlain who made way instead of the terrible Özil. It was obvious from the start of the second half that our left hand side was our major weakness and for Arsene not to address it was deeply worrying.
And with 3 minutes remaining, yet another cross from the right hand side was our undoing. Lahm should have been charged down by Özil but he was given about 50 years to pick out a ball for Bayern to score a second from a header.
In the end, it was a hugely frustrating night caused by one man in particular. The man who is supposed to be the diamond in our side was actually a hinderance us and obviously, the moment which defined the game was the poor Mesut Özil penalty.
My grandmother could have taken a better penalty than that, and she’s in a wheelchair.
After the game, Arsene remarked that he “preferred players to run properly to the ball” on a penalty. That, I don’t disagree with Arsene.
Wojciech Szczesny: 5/10
Unlucky to be sent off. Didn’t have a huge amount to do before being dismissed.
Bacary Sagna: 7/10
Solid on the right hand side but hardly involved as Bayern attacked relentlessly on our left hand side.
Per Mertesacker: 8/10
Excellent in the circumstances, organised the back four well. Made some important tackles and interceptions as well.
Laurent Koscielny: 8/10
Very good alongside Mertesacker, and did well considering. Also made some vital blocks and won the majority of his tackles. Also drove the side forward whenever he could.
Kieran Gibbs: 7/10
Did well until he went off injured.
Mathieu Flamini: 8/10
Gave everything he had and made some truly fantastic blocks. Without him fighting in the middle of the pitch, we could have lost by a larger margin.
Jack Wilshere: 7/10
Found it hard in the middle once we were down to 10 men but coped well all things considered.
Santi Cazorla: 6/10
Couldn’t impose himself in the game and struggled.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 7/10
Full of running in the first 30 minutes but subdued once Szczesny was sent off. Unfortunate to be taken off in the second half.
Mesut Özil: 2/10
Awful. Awful penalty and awful performance. Once he missed the penalty he disappeared, which isn’t really what you’d expect from a supposedly world class player.
Yaya Sanogo: 7/10
Made an excellent start to the game, holding the ball up well and almost created a great chance for Oxlade-Chamberlain. Couldn’t influence the game once we went down to 10 men.
Lukasz Fabianski: 7/10
Made a few decent saves and couldn’t really do anything about the Kroos goal.
Nacho Monreal: 3/10
Got absolutely mullered by Lahm, Robben and Gotze.