You can’t criticize a team that went into Munich and beat the Bundesliga leaders 2-0 in their own backyard. However, it was still a case of too little too late for Arsenal as they needed a third goal to secure a spot in the European Champions League quarterfinals and lost on the away-goals rule after leveling the aggregate at 3-3. If you didn’t see the game and just read the result you may think it was “close, but no cigar,” but in reality, this wasn’t really the case.
Arsenal got off to an excellent start in the third minute when Theo Walcott came down the right side of the pitch and fed Olivier Giroud with an excellent low cross which the French international then roofed into the net. It was the perfect start for a team that had to overcome a 3-1 deficit to go through to the next round. They had Bayern reeling right from the start, but failed to go for the knockout punch.
The Gunners didn’t keep the pressure on their hosts and while they played a relatively superb defensive game, they sacrificed their offence in doing so. It seems this squad can do either one or the other well, but not both in the same game. Until they can combine fine defensive and offensive efforts in the same 90 minutes they’re going to struggle against the world’s top teams.
They didn’t really create another chance other than a close call by Gervinho until they unexpectedly got back into the game in the 86th minute on a Lauren Koscielny header from a right-sided corner. The remaining four minutes of regulation and three minutes of added time was as uneventful as the previous 86 minutes. Unfortunately half of the seven minutes that were left were simply wasted, including a couple of silly fouls by Mikel Arteta, and the hope of a miraculous comeback came to an anti-climatic end as it fizzled out.
Arsenal certainly missed young Jack Wilshere in the midfield for this match and the result could have possibly been different if he had played. Many fans were left scratching their heads when leading scorer Theo Walcott was substituted in the 72ndminute and replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. When desperately needing two more goals it’s a good idea to leave your top scorer on the pitch unless he was injured. Lukasz Fabianski had a fine game in goal, but Arsenal paid the price for not playing urgent and desperate enough.
If they had opened things up earlier and went hell bent for leather it wouldn’t really have mattered if Bayern scored a goal since Arsenal still needed three and a 3-1 score would have given the Gunners 30 minutes of extra time to seek out a winner. Bayern weren’t at their best, but still managed 23 shots at target against the Gunners five. If these figures had been reversed it’s likely that Arsenal would have pulled it off.
The team will now have to lick its wounds and prepare themselves for a weekend match against Swansea. They can hold their heads high as it was a good effort, but ultimately it fell just a little short. The Premier League’s hopes of another Champions League win went out the window with the 3-3 aggregate as Arsenal represented the last chance for an English team to advance. For the first time in 17 years, there will be no Premier League side at the quarterfinal stage of the tournament.
Arsenal Player Ratings March 13 vs Bayern Munich
Lukasz Fabianski 8
The 27-year-old Polish keeper had an excellent game. He saved everything that came at him and missed just one cross, which went underneath his body. His first match in a year should be quite memorable for him.
Carl Jenkinson 7.5
Like all of the defenders, Jenkinson played extremely well and kept as close to Arjen Robben as he possibly could.
Per Mertesacker 7.5
A solid and steady game by the big German except for a giveaway in the first half.
Laurent Koscielny 7.5
Played a great game in his own end and his late goal gave the Gunners a chance to win the tie.
Kieran Gibbs 7.5
Perhaps a surprise starter, Gibbs was solid and didn’t look out of place at all after being out with an injury for a several weeks.
Mikel Arteta 6
Arteta was doing okay, but killed any chances of a comeback with silly fouls during added time.
Aaron Ramsey 6
Ramsey wasn’t at his best today, but by no means did he have a bad game. He was replaced after 72 minutes by Gervinho.
Tomas Rosicky 6.5
Rosicky played well when he settled down. He was guilty of a couple of foolish fouls that could have ultimately led to two yellows. His experience helped once he got into the match though
Santi Cazorla 6
Cazorla didn’t really play as well as fans hoped he would. He didn’t stamp his authority on the match and it showed.
Theo Walcott 6
Walcott fed Giroud with an excellent ball to open the scoring and sent in a similar cross just a few minutes later. Other than that though, he wasn’t really noticeable. Was taken off after 72 minutes for Gervinho
Olivier Giroud 6.5
Did well to pounce on Walcott’s cross for the opening goal. However, like Walcott, he didn’t have the chance to show his skills
Came on after 72 minutes for Ramsey and came close to scoring shortly after, but the ball slowly rolled wide of the post. Had a decent 20 minutes.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 6
Came on for Walcott after 72 minutes. Didn’t really impact the game one way or the other.