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Thursday, 20 February 2014

Ten men Arsenal suffer defeat in first leg

Arsenal suffered a bitterly disappointing first leg defeat to Bayern Munich on Wednesday night. It was a game of ifs and buts as there were two missed penalties, a red card, a controversial referee and two goals from Kroos and Muller. It was a very similar game to the Man City - Barca game in the fact that it looked like we were going to come away with just one away goal conceded, but instead, it was two. Something that added an extra frustration to the game. There's no doubt about the commitment from the team but we were camped inside our own half for all of the second half and it was only a matter of time before the best team in the world broke us down. The line-up was close to the one that was predicted, one surprise was sprung though as Yaya Sanogo started for the second game running ahead of Olivier Giroud.

The atmosphere inside the Emirates throughout the first quarter was absolutely amazing, it was the loudest I've heard the Emirates in a while, it was absolutely rocking. And then we got a penalty. Mesut Ozil performed an amazing piece of skill to get past Jerome Boateng but then he was caught and the ref pointed to the spot. Ozil himself took it but it truly was an awful penalty. He sent just to the keepers left but Neuer was there to keep it out. It was a penalty that was clear to see left Ozil with a lot of frustrations. We had played brilliantly in the first fifteen minutes, Oxlade-Chamberlain was causing havoc down that right hand side as Cazorla saw an effort saved. Yaya Sanogo was then denied a first Arsenal goal by a brilliant save from Neuer once more.
Manuel Neuer kept Bayern in the game early on
The whole tie was to then change. Arjen Robben raced into the penalty area, tapped the ball past Szczesny who then clipped the Dutchman on his follow through. It was an accident but a penalty was awarded and our keeper was sent off. Cazorla was sacrificed as Fabianski came on after his brilliant performance against Liverpool at the weekend. He wasn't needed though as David Alaba slid his penalty wide via the post. Cue an eruption of noise from the Emirates faithful. As said, the tie was never to be the same.

We were pegged back for the rest of the game as Pep Guardiola's philosophy as a high tempo passing build up came into play. We managed to hold them until the break but the second half saw us in our own half for the majority of the 45 minutes. Lahm rolled the ball to Kroos who then curled the ball home. It was a deserved goal for Kroos who was world class all night. The final blow then came with two minutes remaining. Koscielny had gone on a run to a half way line. Flamini dropped back to cover for him but the ball was played over the top and Muller headed home.

It was a game of very few positives but one of them was that of the performance of Yaya Sanogo. I have high hopes for him after seeing him against Liverpool and now Bayern and he looks the real deal. We're set to see what he's like when presented with a goal scoring chance but his hold up play play is good and he's a big force in the air. He's proven to be decent back up to Giroud whose had a spell out of the team due to issues off the pitch.

Mesut Ozil was the main talking point from the game though. A lot of people were wrongly berating him last night. His skill to win the penalty was incredible. Yes, his penalty was truly atrocious and it would've been amazing to get that opening goal. Had we scored, it would've been a completely different game. However, people saying he had a nightmare need to look at the small details. He was effectively playing as a second left back for the second half and what I noticed from seeing us live last night is that he keeps giving the ball away because there is literally no one ahead of him to pass to. Ozil really wanted it last night and you could see that. He's played in these types of games before and had we had eleven men then he would've had a big big influence.

Another big part of the game was the injury to Kieran Gibbs. He was dealing fairly well up to then and as soon as Monreal came on, we looked a little shaky. Robben was moved out to the right hand side and despite him being the most predictable person I've seen play, he was proving difficult to deal with. Lets hope the Gibbs' injury is not too serious.  
Arsenal were in the game in the early exchanges but still suffered a 2-0 defeat
Our second leg tie will be extremely difficult to get anything out of, it will be tougher than last time round and we'll need to be absolutely amazing if we're to go through. Next up though is a league game against Sunderland. It will be a relief to get back to playing a smaller opponent after all the though games we've had. A few players could be rested whilst the likes of Rosicky and Giroud could come back into the side. We must remember though, we're still in with a chance of winning the FA Cup and the Premier League. Something that hasn't been on our side in recent seasons.

The teams line-ups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs(31), Flamini, Wilshere, Ozil, Cazorla(38), Oxlade-Chamberlain(74), Sanogo.
Subs: Fabianski(38), Jenkinson, Monreal(31), Rosicky(74), Gnabry, Podolski, Giroud.

Bayern Munich: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng(46), Dante, Alaba, Javi Martinez, Thiago(79), Kroos, Gotze, Robben, Mandzukic(64). 
Subs: Starke, Van Buyten, Rafinha(46), Contento, Schweinsteiger, Muller(64), Pizarro(79). 

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)
Attendance: 59,911  

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