Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Arsenal Keep Their Hopes Alive By Beating Bayern Munich

Arsenal played at home to Bayern Munich last night knowing that anything other than a win would all but end their participation in this season's Champions League. They faced a team who had won their last 12 games in a row and had swatted away the two teams who had already beaten Arsenal. Despite the claims of Pep Guardiola Arsenal were not favourites to win the game and it was going to be an uphill struggle for them.

From the start Bayern dominated possession as Arsenal defended in numbers and looked to make something happen on the break. Despite Bayern's dominance it was Arsenal who should have led at the break, but Theo Walcott couldn't put a header away when he seemed certain to score. He was part of an unchanged Arsenal team from the one which won 3-0 at Watford on Saturday. To be fair to Walcott Manuel Neuer made a magnificent save from the header, but he shouldn't have had a chance to save it.

The second half started in the same vein with Bayern dominant again and Petr Cech was called upon a couple of times to make excellent saves to keep Arsenal in the game. The difference between him and David Ospina is vast and he quite simply has to play in the rest of the group games even if Ospina is fit again. Besides his brilliance the confidence he instills in the defence cannot be overestimated and it's great to see him in an Arsenal shirt.

Aaron Ramsey pulled up with a hamstring injury before the hour mark and he was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Ramsey is going to be out for a while by the looks of it and Chamberlain should get the run in the team that he probably needs to progress. Ramsey had done well up to that point as had every single Arsenal player and Chamberlain continued in that mould.

The breakthrough came with just over 10 minutes left when Olivier Giroud got his face on a free kick from Santi Cazorla and the ball ended up in the net. Giroud had only been on the field for three minutes as a substitute for Walcott when he got the goal. Bayern played a huge part in their own downfall by holding a line which was too far out for the free kick and Cazorla had an easy job of putting the ball in the space between the keeper and the defence. Neuer didn't cover himself in glory either as he completely missed the ball after it had gone over the head of Laurent Koscielny before it hit Giroud to go in.

Bayern tried to throw all they had at Arsenal, but Arsenal held firm in defence. In the last of the four added minutes they doubled their advantage when Hector Bellerin raced into the Bayern box and squared the ball for Ozil who appeared to have his point blank shot saved. The official behind the goal was on hand to award the goal though and correctly so despite the best efforts of Neuer. 

Bayern only just had time to kick off before the final whistle blew and Arsenal got the victory they so badly needed. The win puts them back in with a chance in the group with three games left to play. A draw between Zagreb and Olympiacos would have been an ideal result for Arsenal in the other game in the group, but unfortunately Olympiacos won 1-0 away from home.

If Arsenal are going to progress from the group the chances are it will go right to the wire and they will need to win by a couple of goals away to Olympiacos in early December. They could make things that bit easier for themselves if they can manage to take something from the return game in Munich, but that will be a huge task to try to achieve. There is some hope in that game though as Arsenal have won and drawn their last two games away to Bayern in recent years.

The injury to Ramsey has to be a real worry for Arsene Wenger with Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Risicky already on the injury list. The team's attacking options are decreasing rapidly with Guroud and Chamberlain the only attacking options on the bench last night. If Chamberlain starts on Saturday Joel Canpbell will probably be on the bench and that's more or less the extent of the attacking options. One more injury could be one too many and the chances to rotate and rest players just won't be there with so few options.

Hopefully Ramsey won't be out for too long and Chamberlain will make the most of his chance or maybe even Campbell will grab any chance he might get with both hands. The alternative doesn't bear thinking about and it really is better off ignored until it actually happens.

For the moment Arsenal can bask in the glory of beating Bayern and look forward to their game with Everton this weekend. If they can win that game they will go to the top of the table ahead of the Manchester derby and the right result in that game could see Arsenal keep that top spot. It would be the perfect way to end a great week for the team if they were to take over at the top of the league after last night's great victory.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Our little darting marvel lost the ball a few times in dangerous situations. It coud have
    been fatal.I note that he was hounded by at least two if not three BM guys near the touch line
    forcing him to lose the ball.
    Overall it was a result to savour and the defence were okay. Everton will be a different game.Not withstanding
    tiredness on the players,hopefully the gunners can still get the better off the Blues. Otherwise it will be
    back to square one.