I predicted in my last post this afternoon that it would be 3-1 either way. My heart said it would be to Arsenal, but my head was saying Bayern. And that’s what ended up happening.
Arsenal started the game poorly and at this level, you can’t give a team like Bayern any head start. But after only 7 minutes, Bayern opened the scoring and grabbed a vital away goal through Kroos.
Then in typical Arsenal fashion, our shambolic defending gave Bayern another goal this time from a corner. Szczesny, just like against Blackburn, was again culpable with a extremely poor save gifting Mueller a tap in from a yard out. Szczesny talks the talk but too many times has cost Arsenal dearly. He palmed the shot against Blackburn into the danger area from Kazim-Richards to score and instead of getting the ball clear tonight he gave it straight to a Bayern player. When Almunia and Fabianski made mistakes Arsenal fans would by quick to late them, but for some strange reason the Pole is never questioned or criticised. He’s not good enough and Arsenal need to buy a decent goalkeeper as competition because Szczesny is in the comfort zone.
After that, Bayern played out the first half and as expected, Arsenal were fired up for the second half. But far too often, Arsenal are abysmal in the first 45 minutes and then “show character” to fight back in the second 45. But why can’t Arsenal get their act together from the start? There is something fundamentally wrong with how this Arsenal team set themselves out from the first whistle.
We nicked a goal through Podolski when Bayern failed to defend a corner (they must have caught “Arsenal-itis”) and we tried to get an equaliser.
Giroud and Rosicky came on to replace Ramsey and Podolski, and Theo went out wide. Within minutes, Rosicky did well to find Theo on the right and his fantastic cross found Giroud who shot straight at Neuer.
And when that happened, every single Arsenal fan knew what was going to happen next.
Too often, Giroud has the chance to make a massive difference in the game which ends up being vital to the result. Again, he missed the chance to score the equaliser, and give Arsenal a huge boost in the game, only to miss and what happens? Bayern go and score a sucker punch goal.
Arsenal conceded a goal that only Arsenal could concede. Ridiculous, and if you weren’t an Arsenal fan you’d probably laugh.
I like Giroud, but like many players at Arsenal he’s not good enough. That’s not his fault, he tries but the fact is the calibre of player we bring in these days isn’t as good as the players we sell. Would Van Persie has missed that? Actually, don’t answer that.
But the point is at the top top level, little things like that matter. A world class striker and a very good striker can be the difference in these games. Having a world class goalkeeper would definitely make a difference.
And how about the starting eleven?
How can any sane person start Theo Walcott up front? He is electric on the wing – we all know about his pace and his delivery has massively improved in recent seasons. And the fact is he can exploit his pace with more space out in the wide areas. That decision made things extremely difficult and had a big bearing on the potential result in my eyes.
Ramsey was off the pace. He gave it his best but unfortunately he wasn’t in the game tonight. Wilshere was excellent but he can’t do it all by himself. With a bit more luck, he may have nicked a goal but it’s too much to ask of one player.
Bayern Munich were clearly the superior side, and at times controlled the game comfortably. The biggest frustration is that Arsenal could have given themselves a much better chance tonight. They could have started Theo out wide and Giroud up top. They could have brought Rosicky on much earlier. The team and system that started the game gave Arsenal little hope and that’s how it turned out.
At least we can now concentrate on the only trophy that really matters – 4th place.