Thursday, November 5, 2015

Arsenal have to get Bayern battering out of their minds

There’s no two ways of looking at the events of Wednesday night; Arsenal were thrashed. It was as if Arsenal had poked a sleeping bear by beating the Germans 2-0 at the Emirates, and in Munich that bear woke up and quite literally ripped Arsenal’s face off.
But for Petr Cech, the score line could have been worse than the 5-1 that it finished as Bayern dominated possession and were ruthless when they approached Arsenal’s penalty area. It makes the fact Arsenal did manage to beat Bayern a couple of weeks ago all the more remarkable. While the result will have been a shock to the system for Arsenal, Bayern usually score at least four goals every home game, so it was just business as usual for the impressive Germans.
While Arsenal did make individual mistakes for most of the goals that they conceded, the overall performance wasn’t one that would usually merit a 5-1 defeat. Bayern Munich were supreme in the way they moved the ball about and pressed Arsenal high up the pitch to deny the Gunners opportunities to get the ball forward to Olivier Giroud.
Despite getting such a comprehensive pasting, there are still a few ‘what ifs’ from the game for Arsenal. Having just conceded the first goal, Arsene Wenger’s team put together a good forward move that ended with Nacho Monreal firing the ball across goal and seeing it go via the body of Mesut Ozil. It was eventually disallowed for handball, but Ozil didn’t intentionally play the ball with arm, making it a very harsh decision. At 1-1, Arsenal might have been able to regroup and not roll over in the manner they did in the first half.
There were also glimpses of Arsenal’s quality going forward, which could have been more telling had the Gunners been able to hang in the game defensively. Santi Cazorla had a great opportunity in the second half following good work from Coquelin, while the goal that Arsenal did score was superbly taken by Olivier Giroud.
In terms of the group, Arsenal now need Bayern to show the same form in their next game. The Germans will host Olympiacos and have to win to give Arsenal a chance of sneaking past the Greeks. Arsenal themselves have to beat Dinamo Zagreb and then beat the Greeks by two goals on the final day. It’s definitely doable, but does raise the possibility of Arsenal just missing out and dropping into the unwanted booby prize of the Europa League.
But those worries can wait. Arsenal have to get the defeat out their heads immediately because they have the biggest game of the season on Sunday. I’m sure that most Arsenal fans will accept the Munich defeat if it means a North London derby win at the weekend. While the European performances have been patchy, the Gunners have to go into the derby remembering what they’ve done in the league this season. If they allow the 5-1 disappointment to linger, things could unravel rather quickly. Arsenal’s responses to defeats this season have been excellent, and if they produce another good one on Sunday, the mauling in Munich can be forgotten.