I’m really not sure what to make of yesterday’s 5-1 hammering to Bayern Munich. I mean, obviously we played poorly and obviously our Champions League qualifications are hanging by the tiniest of threads, but it was a strange game because at times in the second half we looked good. Heck, Ollie G even weighed in with a pretty well taken volley to give the travelling Gooners at least something to cheer about.
Yet we still got battered 5-1 in what can only be described as an ’embarrassing meh’. We are still bottom of the group with just three measly points and the chances are we’re going out of this stage in the competition since gawd knows when. But in true Arsenal style, there is still a chink of light to aim for, which will no doubt end in another glorious failure on match day six, as we try to beat Olympiakos by two clear goals. Otherwise that’s it. Or worse, we’re playing in the Europa League. I shudder at the prospect.
Back to the game itself and, let’s be honest, it was probably over on the half hour mark when Bayern went two up. Özil had the ball in the back of the net at 1-0, but being down two was pretty much the end of the game and it was always going to be a case of ‘how much’ rather than whether we could fight back. I’ll level with you now, sitting at home watching another team suffocate the life out of my beloved Arsenal is not exactly my idea of fun, so I started paying a bit more attention to my phone than the match. I kept it on and kept one eye on it, but with the game effectively dead my only real worries were on making sure we don’t lose anyone else for Sunday’s North London Derby. We’ve already got a whole other team out injured at the moment, so the last thing we needed was more injuries, so I was pleased that we had nobody else that went down with a twang.
The team performance itself could be broken in to two parts – something Arsène alluded to in his post match presser – our half decent looking attack being rendered almost completely pointless by a creaking defence that looked like they’d never played together. Only Cech came out with any credit, making a couple of decent saves to try to keep the score down. Debuchy looked well short of the required level; something probably more down to his lack of game time than anything else. Although he did get back to prevent Robben from scoring another in a very similar style to Bellerin at the weekend. Mertesacker looked as immobile and gangly as he normally should but this time his composure and usual assured look was absent. That only left the awkward parts of his game. Gabriel was equally shaky and you can see why Koscienly is the best of our defenders. It will be a welcome site to see him start on Sunday (assuming he is full fit). On the left Monreal was doubled up by Lahm and later on Robben and he was left exposed again and again.
Midfield too didn’t have that controlled look as we saw in the reverse fixture. Bayern players were given too much time but unlike in the first game where we were all about shape and not letting them play in behind, this time we left gaps everywhere. It was really shoddy stuff. I bet Bayern couldn’t believe their luck.
I thought Özil had a decent game, most of the positive being in the second half, but Alexis was once again poor. I think he’s running on empty. Arsène will pick him on Sunday but if I was the manager, I’d put him in a straight jacket and tie his shoelaces together, then get him to sit in an armchair for three days. That would be brilliant prep for Sunday, because he’ll be so pumped he’d probably get a hat trick against the Spuds. But something has to happen because the last few games have hardly been vintage Alexis.
Giroud took his goal well and got in to the game more in the second half and whilst Campbell had a couple of good runs, he struggled in the main.
So where are we now? The main worry is confidence. I don’t think even the most ardent Arsenal can would admit they felt confident about last night’s game, but we were at least hoping to give a good account of ourselves. I would have taken a gritty 2-1 loss that we can take comfort from. Maybe we can look at the positives of the way we popped the ball around in the second half at times, but really, can you take many positives from a 5-1 drubbing?
Still, it’s over now and let’s be honest, we’re unlikely to play a team that good over the next three or four months, so perhaps there’s some solace in that.
Have a good’un and shrug it all off.