For the third time in a row, Arsenal suffered a humiliating 5-1 loss to Bayern Munich, consigning them to a 10-2 aggregate defeat that is only beaten by Sporting Lisbon’s record 12-1 demolition – also at the hands of the Bavarian giants.
But despite watching his side implode as Laurent Koscielny was sent-off after conceding a penalty in the second half to end any hopes the Gunners had of reaching the quarter-finals following Theo Walcott’s momentum-building opener, Wenger was keen to praise his players for showing “spirit and pride”. It was a strange claim that not even the most devout Arsenal fan could agree with.
With Wenger facing possible action over his astonishing outburst against referee Tasos Sidiropoulos for his performance at the Emirates Stadium, it suddenly dawned that he may not serve any sanction at Arsenal. Wenger is out of contract at the end of the season and yet to decide if he will sign a new two-year extension that has already been offered, and the felling is he is inching towards the last act of his 20-and-a-half-year reign at Arsenal.
After being asked about his own future and whether he had just managed his final match for Arsenal in the Champions League, he responded: “I don’t know. You always worry for headlines, I’m here to speak about football not about my future.”
Yet he seemed reluctant to accept there is a problem at Arsenal. Before the match, around 400 fans gathered outside the old Highbury East Stand to protest against Wenger’s reign and called for him to leave at the end of the season. Upon Arturo Vidal’s second goal that secured the 5-1 victory for Bayern, the “Wenger Out” signs once again appeared in the Clock End, and Alexis Sanchez’s reaction to the final goal appeared to be one of resigned humour.
But there is no problem, according to Wenger.
Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 5 player ratings
Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 5 player ratings
1/22 David Ospina – 6 out of 10
This Champions League tie may be Arsene Wenger's last as Arsenal manager
2/22 Hector Bellerin – 6 out of 10
Played well in the first half in attacking down the right to support Walcott, but was ineffective in the second and he fell asleep to allow Costa and Vidal in behind him for the fifth, though by that point the entire Arsenal side was asleep.
3/22 Shkodran Mustafi – 5 out of 10
Showed a nice pass to put Walcott in when he should have bagged a second, but the loss of Koscielny alongside him again exposed his weakness. Sloppy passing after the break, and completely gave up after the second goal.
4/22 Laurent Koscielny – 6 out of 10
Looked switched on from the get-go a he blocked Robben’s shot before deflecting two crosses out for a corner. However, the game turned again on his departure, as he tripped Lewandowski in the area without trying to play the ball, receiving a red card in the process.
5/22 Nacho Monreal – 5 out of 10
Got forward on occasion and offered support to Giroud as the striker preferred the left side of the Bayern defence. However, he simply isn’t good enough to defend at this level as he repeatedly played the Bayern attack onside.
6/22 Aaron Ramsey – 6 out of 10
Looked a yard short of his best given his lack of football, but grew into the game as it wore on. Won a free-kick just before the break with a nice turn on Martinez and started to have a bigger influence in the central role that he craves. Replaced when the game was done at 2-1.
7/22 Granit Xhaka – 6 out of 10
Looked much more controlled early on as he protected his back line and showed a nice passing ability to spray the ball from flank to flank. But with the collapse went his discipline, and picked up another booking for a terrible tackle on Rafinha.
8/22 Theo Walcott – 7 out of 10
Started the match with a point to prove and went about doing it in the perfect way. Two early runs should’ve alerted the danger, and the third produced the opener as he beat Neuer at his near post, seven years after his last Champions League knockout goal. Should’ve had a second from the same position, but fired into the side-netting. Much quieter in the second half, and probably the only Arsenal player who showed his best out there.
9/22 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6 out of 10
Moved to a central role and enjoyed having more influence in the game. Drifted to the right on occasion but the end result was missing.
10/22 Olivier Giroud – 6 out of 10
In at the last minute for the ill Danny Welbeck. He brought a physical threat to Bayern, and nearly found the net with an early header after getting above Hummels. Missed na even better chance after the break when unmarked in the centre of the box, but somehow headed over.
11/22 Alexis Sanchez – 6 out of 10
A lively start on his return to the side, as he was providing the link between the midfield and Giroud up top. Gave away possession that nearly led to a Bayern goal for Lewandowski, and departed when Wenger knew the game was gone.
12/22 Manuel Neuer – 6 out of 10
It’s not often you can say he should have done better, but he should have done better. Punched Walcott’s fiercely struck effort high into the roof of his own net. Rarely tested otherwise.
13/22 Rafinha – 6 out of 10
Brought into the side for the suspended Philipp Lahm, and he did an adequate job of shackling Sanchez that forced him inside.
14/22 Javi Martinez – 6 out of 10
Booked for a cynical foul on Ramsey as he ran towards the Bayern area. Looked the weak link at the back, but once the Arsenal attack wilted he was allowed to run forward and nearly bagged himself a goal, heading just over.
15/22 Mats Hummels – 6 out of 10
Passed too easily by Walcott for the goal, and struggled to cope with the England winger’s pace on the left.
16/22 David Alaba – 6 out of 10
Struggled desperately with the Walcott-Bellerin combination on his flank, and his early shot at goal from a Robben corner was always curling away from the target.
17/22 Xabi Alonso – 7 out of 10
Apart from a corner that failed to beat the first man, he oozed control and class in the middle of the field. Happy to sit back and let his teammates take the plaudits, but he’ll be sorely missed.
18/22 Arturo Vidal – 8 out of 10
Lucky to get away with a high foot on Sanchez that could have brought a booking, and his early sighter at goal from long range wasn’t a handsome one. But as Bayern cut loose, so did he, and he linked up delightfully with Douglas Costa twice at the end to go home with two goals to his name.
19/22 Arjen Robben – 8 out of 10
Gave Monreal problems early as he cut in on his left foot, only to have his shot blocked. Saw another effort from the right well saved by Ospina. Lovely flick over the defence should’ve brought a goal from Lewandowski before the break. Aware enough to capitalise on Opsina’s poor clearance and link with Lewandowski to score his goal.
20/22 Thiago Alcantara – 8 out of 10
Another virtuoso performance from the midfield that is really starting to come of age. Links the play beautifully between midfield and Lewandowski.
21/22 Franck Ribery – 6 out of 10
Stood still and watched Walcott run away from him for the opener in a lazy daze. The only disappointment the Bayern attack.
22/22 Robert Lewandowski – 8 out of 10
Missed a sitter late in the first-half when put through by Robben, and he could only guide the ball wide of the far post. Split the Arsenal defence after the break to win a penalty and send Koscielny for an early bath, and tucked home the spot-kick coolly, as you’d expect. Should have had a second, but his close-range effort struck the post.
“What needs to change at this club? What do you mean?” Wenger responded to a question about the deep-rooted issues that the club clearly harbours. “This club is in a great shape, at the moment it’s going through a very difficult situation. So what needs to change is the result in the next game.
“We can compete with Bayern, we showed that in the first half. I believe the second half was a very difficult situation for us.
“Overall Bayern is a good team, they do what they want in Germany, what we cannot do in England. Nobody can compete with them. They take the players they want and they are a bit lonely on the market, which is not the case in England.”Reuse content