Arsenal 1-5 Bayern Munich Analysis: Koscielny the catalyst again as Gunners spark out

Arsenal 1-5 Bayern Munich Analysis: Koscielny the catalyst again as Gunners spark out

For the seventh consecutive season, Arsenal exit the Champions League at the last-16 stage, following yet another humbling defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich.

TJWedderburn
TJ Wedderburn

For the third time in as many meetings, Bayern Munich hit five goals past Arsenal, as the champions of Germany progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The feeling of groundhog day must be all too familiar for Arsenal supporters, after witnessing their team exit the Champions League at the exact same stage for the seventh time running. 

Some controversial refereeing decisions didn't exactly aid the Gunners' cause, but in the end the north-London club were soundly beaten.

Arsenal benefit from a strong start

Arsenal appeared to have approached the game with the required seriousness to win. They pressed their opponents in a smart manner and looked to attack whenever possible. Winger Theo Walcott was a constant threat down the right hand side, particularly with the marauding runs of Hector Bellerin in support. 

It was Arsenal's longest serving player in Walcott who would open the scoring inside the 20th minute. After some neat combination play following a throw-in from Bellerin, the pacey front man had a quick exchange with Olivier Giroud, upon receiving the ball the 27-year-old rifled a shot past Manuel Neuer at the near post.

It was a deserved goal for Arsenal after an extremely positive start. Walcott would once again prove to be a thorn in Bayern's side and he was unlucky not to have won a penalty for his side. Xabi Alonso looked to have fouled Walcott after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain found him in Bayern's box, but referee Anastasios Sidiropoulos waved away Arsenal's protests.

In the 37th minute, Bayern's leading scorer Robert Lewandowski was presented with a great chance to level the score on the night. But he could only steer Arjen Robben's beautifully chipped through-pass wide of the far post.

With five minutes of normal time to go in the first half, Arturo Vidal was fortunate to escape a booking after a hefty challenge on his fellow countryman Alexis Sanchez. The referee awarded a freekick in Arsenal's favour but failed to produce a card.

The Gunners headed into half-time a goal to the good and had even the most stubborn supporters believing it could be a special night at The Emirates. Not so.

Capitulation

In the first leg in Germany, Arsenal seemed to fall apart when their influential defender and stand-in captain Laurent Koscielny departed due to injury. The Frenchman left the field once again in more controversial circumstances, but the result of his departure was strikingly similar. 

In the 53rd minute of the second half, Koscielny conceded a penalty after a blatant foul on Lewandowski in the box, but the worst was yet to come for Arsenal. After appearing to receive a yellow card for the challenge, Koscielny then saw red after referee Sidiropoulos altered his decision and sent defender off- effectively putting any hope of a comeback beyond Arsenal. 

Lewandowski confidently dispatched the resulting penalty kick and Bayern smelt blood. 

Arsenal, now now a man down and five goals down on aggregate, were in a desperate situation, and before long Bayern would take the lead on the night. After poor distribution from David Ospina, Robben nicked the ball from Sanchez on the edge of the Arsenal area and proceeded to score from close range.

In the 77th minute, Granit Xhaka's loose pass was seized upon by Rafinha, after being fouled by the Swiss international, the ball fell kindly to substitute Douglas Costa. The Brazilian had the pace, power and finesse to drive at the Arsenal defence and fire beyond a hapless Ospina. 

Now, it was Shkodran Mustafi's turn to make a mistake. His under-hit pass was intercepted by Alonso, the veteran-midfielder then played it into the path of Vidal who produced a delicious dink to make it 4-1 to Bayern on the night, 9-2 on aggregate. 

With 84 minutes on the clock, everyone connected with Arsenal was praying that Bayern had finished scoring, but the ever-involved Vidal had other ideas. Substitute Renato Sanches played in Costa with a defence-splitting through pass, Costa then generously set up Vidal who tapped into an open net, making it an incredible 10-2 on aggregate.

Complete and utter embarrassment for Arsenal, who are knocked out of the Champions League for another year. The pressure grows on Arsene Wenger, who has just months remaining on his current contract. Is this the end of the road for the legendary Arsenal boss? After this result, calls for the 67-year-old to step down will only intensify. 

 

 

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