Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Arsenal Throw The Towel In Against Bayern Munich

Well that wasn't exactly very good was it. We feared the worst at home to Bayern Munich last night and after some initial hope in the first half Arsenal delivered on those fears in a big way. We ended up on the end of a 10-2 aggregate drubbing and it's hard to believe it wasn't deserved. 

The team selection at least gave some promise, but Danny Welbeck's injury in the warm up meant Olivier Giroud had to be drafted into the starting team. Bayern are vulnerable to pace as Theo Walcott showed last night, but that's one thing Giroud completely lacks. The first half went our way though and Walcott took his goal very well even if Bayern did give us a couple of scares.

I held out no real hope of Arsenal getting the other three goals they needed in the second half, but a similar performance to the first half would have at least been sufficient. They did all that could be asked of them in that first half and played with the pride, passion and the aggression which has been missing too often recently.

At the start of the second half Giroud came close with a header before things went badly awry. The referee had let Vidal off with an awful challenge on Alexis in the first half for which he could have seen red and turned down a penalty appeal for a foul on Walcott too. He had let Bayern away with a few fouls which didn't endear him to us Arsenal fans and then he changed the course of the game.

Laurent Koscielny was adjudged to have fouled Lewandowski in the box and the referee gave a penalty and a yellow card which looked about right to me. However, he was over ruled by the official behind the goal who informed his that Koscielny should be sent off. He duly obliged and when Lewandoski dispatched the penalty it had to become a damage limitation exercise for Arsenal.

With 10 men left on the pitch and a four goal deficit to overturn against a team like Bayern there was no hope, but Arsenal weren't to be told. The first mistake was dropping Granit Xhaka back into defence to replace Koscielny while Gabriel Paulista stayed on the bench. Xhaka had done well in midfield in the first half, but it was a ridiculous decision to put him back into the defence.

After that the 10 men tried to play an even more open and attacking game than they had done in the first half and Bayern just picked them off at will. It reminded me of the 8-2 defeat at United a few years ago where we continued to try to attack them as they scored goal after goal. The manager doesn't seem to comprehend what damage limitation is or what results like that do to us fans.

No matter what he says he cannot feel what we do or he would have the sense to realise when it's time to shut up shop and stop the pain. I called for his head after that game or at least said he had to consider his position and he has to do that now too. I don't even think it's a case of considering his position as I think it has become untenable at this stage.

The funny thing about the two games against Bayern is we won them 2-1 with Koscielny on the pitch and lost 9-0 without him. It's a record home defeat in Europe as well as a record aggregate defeat added to the joint record away defeat in the first leg. How anyone could consider any of that progress I just don't know and yet we're meant to be able to complete with the best.

Maybe the manager managed to inspire his players in the first half last night, but when the chips were down he not only couldn't inspire them, but he got it completely wrong tactically. We have lost five of our last seven games and conceded 18 goals in those five defeats. The only wins in that run were a lucky one at home to Hull and an FA Cup win against a non league team.

It's just not good enough and we have the banana skin of another non league team in the next round of the FA Cup this week to look forward to. We should beat them by five or six goals at a canter, but I genuinely fear we could be on the end of possibly the biggest FA Cup upset ever. As a club we are going nowhere and nowhere fast too.

If the manager cannot inspire his players and is so tactically inept we need to find someone who can do the job better than him. We need a complete change and quickly too or we will have nothing left to play for in a matter of weeks. I know we won't even consider a new manager until the season ends, but I think he has to make his intentions known immediately for the good of the club and the fans.

I hope he has decided he's not the right man for the job and will let us all know soon, but I doubt it. I think we will stumble along until the end of the season without a trophy, outside the top four and behind Spurs too. After all the proud work of his 20 years at the club it would be awful for it to end like that, but it's the most likely scenario for me at this stage.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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