And so the Champions League run for The Arsenal comes to an end. Not with a bang, but sadly with a bit of a whimper, as Bayern saw out a tense affair in Munich by beating us 1-0 with that second half headed goal by Kimmich. It was a momentary lapse of concentration from our defenders and ultimately it was that which cost us our place in this competition, as we never really laid a glove on Bayern in the second half and that is a real shame.

I’m obviously down this morning, I wanted us to progress to the semi final and especially now that I know we’d have played Real Madrid and not Man City given they got knocked out, but I’m not as downbeat as I was post Villa, oddly enough. I think that’s because the Villa game came as a real gut punch, whereas this was a Bayern team with bags of experience, pedigree in this competition, a side who are usually perennial winners domestically and a team with which we have a not great history against. So my expectations were a little lower than the game at home to Villa. I think also we got an indication as to the fine margins in the first leg against them at The Emirates. We were the better team on the night but we let defensive lapses give Bayern a sniff and they took it. And that’s what happened last night too.

It was an odd game for me personally to absorb. Arteta mixed things up a bit and I think most of us were happy with the line up, with Tomiyasu coming in at left back, Jorginho back in to midfield and Havertz once again being at the top of the pitch. And we moved the ball around well. In the first half we controlled most of the possession, Bayern were content to let us have it, then they kept their shape and limited us to just a few chances. They were well aware of Saka’s threat so they doubled up on him at times and I’m not going to bag on him and say he played poorly, I just thought he barely got a sniff. That’s understandable given the threat he offered in the first leg and Bayern were acutely aware of his threat, so they snuffed him out.

But we couldn’t really get the ball to our wide forwards quick enough, I didn’t think, such was the set up Bayern had. They wanted to contain us and hit us on the counter and once again they created a couple of good chances in that first half. But as we went in at halftime I was pretty fine with how we’d played. It was a cagey game, we’d kept Bayern at arms length and apart from once or twice in which Sane got behind Tomiyasu – who I thought coped much better than Kiwior did last week against Bayern – I thought we were in good shape.

But in similar fashion to the game at the weekend, this Arsenal team faded in the second half and it’s hard not to look at fatigue for this team as a factor right now, especially with some of the stats and introspection going on amongst us Arsenal fans as to why we keep fading each season. Here’s an interesting graphic that my old mate Danny from the Bergkamp Wonderland podcast put up last night:


Obviously Dan is reacting in the heat of the moment and like me he was disappointed and frustrated, but there might be something to be said about the fact that we haven’t really introduced enough rotation in to the team in 2024.

There’s also this from Sam Dean:

It was all going fine when we were playing once a week, but we all knew that April was going to be tough. I’m not suggesting you drop the likes of Odegaard, Saka, etc for this game, but were there other games we’ve had in which those players could have come off on 60 or 70 minutes? We don’t know the ins and out’s of player fitness, but Thomas Partey has been in training a while now and he’s only been given token minutes. Should we have been building up his fitness with more minutes so that he would be more match fit by now?

I don’t know. I don’t feel like bagging on Arteta or his approach today, because we’re all down, I’m just trying to find reasons as to why we’ve faded so badly in the last few matches in the second half. Having been romping to goals and results just a few short months ago, it feels like we’re back to really having to work hard for each goal and they just aren’t coming. And as a fan you naturally start to wonder what else we could be doing? Is it getting somebody else in to play in certain positions up top? Do we need to just stick with what was working a few months ago? Or should we try something else, like Trossard in a false nine? I don’t have the answers, I’m just a fan, but all I know is that I have a bit of a worry now about how we will play against Wolves at the weekend. I am praying that there is no psychological lasting damage that has been done to the team from these back-to-back defeats. A loss, or even a draw at the weekend and it’s going to feel like last season; the end of the season and a bit of an unravelling going on.

Arteta has to get them on the plane, get them back in to training tomorrow for a debrief, then he has to quickly reset them because we are still not out of the title discussion yet, even though it feels like it’s hanging on a bit of knife edge.

I’m going to stop at this point I think. Be back tomorrow with a look ahead as we start to count down to another massive game and what will be a really tough one away to Wolves.

See you tomorrow.