Thursday, 5 November 2015

Arsenal Concede Five In Munich

Arsenal went to Bayern Munich last night knowing they needed at least a point to keep their Champions League hopes in their own hands. After losing their first two games to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos they had managed to win at home to Bayern two weeks ago to keep their hopes alive. It was always going to be a tough task and Arsenal needed to be at their best from the off.

When they beat Bayern two weeks ago they fought hard as a team and defended in numbers as well as riding their luck a couple of times. It was going to take even more to get a result in Munich and the team news didn't help very much. Besides Hector Bellerin being added to the long list of injuries we also learned that Laurent Koscielny was sitting the game out with a slight knock.

Mathieu Debuchey came in for Bellerin with Gabriel Paulista replacing Koscielny in an otherwise unchanged team from Saturday's victory at Swansea. Arsenal weren't really at the races in the first half of that match and so it proved last night too with a far more ruthless Bayern team taking the advantage that Swansea failed to take. By the time the break came around Arsenal were 3-0 down and the game was already well beyond them.

I hoped to see something better in the second half and Arsenal did offer more of an attacking threat, but Bayern added two more goals with only Olivier Giroud getting on the scoresheet for Arsenal. It was Arsenals worst away defeat in European football and it leaves their chances of making the knockout stages hanging by a thread. Those chances are still alive though and nothing short of victories in their last two games will do now.

What they need to do is pretty simple with nothing short of a victory at home to Zagreb followed by a two goal win away to Olympiacos being good enough. Those results will see them come second in the group as long as Bayern win at home to Olympiacos in the next round of games on November 24th. Bayern haven't won the group yet and are level on points with Olympiacos so I can only assume they will give their all to win the game.

The performance last night left an awful lot to be desired, but not many teams can live with Bayern at their best. I don't think Arsenal's cause has been helped by their severe injury crisis and the same players are being asked to play game after game. Bayern ran them ragged last night and some of those players who are playing twice a week really struggled to keep the pace.

It still doesn't explain the manner of the defeat though and too many of the players looked almost disinterested at times. In a game like last night 100% commitment is required and sadly it was missing from far too many players. In the grand scheme of things last night will be forgotten if the team go out on Sunday and beat Spurs and then continue on to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.

We all know the team are capable of performances like last night, but it has been a while since we've seen one. It's something they have to put behind them quickly and move on to the all important North London Derby this Sunday. If the players dwell on last night it won't do them any good and they owe Spurs a beating after failing to beat them in the league last season.

It''s not going to be easy for a team which has virtually no options in terms of changes to the attacking players in particular. I still think they can get the win though and I think qualification for the knock out stages of the Champions League is well within their abilities too. I know it's no longer in their own hands, but wins for Arsenal and Bayen in three weeks will change that in Arsenal's favour. Going to Olympiacos and winning by two goals on that final day won't be easy either if it comes to it, but again I don't think it's beyond the team. 

Despite the result from last night it's still far from doom and gloom for Arsenal with a genuine title challenge still on the cards. Two weeks ago I would have been more than happy to have taken three points off Bayern and been in the hunt with two games to go. We're still there but only just and until Arsenal can no longer qualify I'll still hold plenty of hope of them making it. 

The damage wasn't done last night as it was a game they were always highly likely to lose. The damage occurred in the first two group games and the team have the opportunity to put that right in the next two games. They have to do just that and give themselves every chance of taking their place in the last 16.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment