Belfast Telegraph

Abysmal Arsenal humiliated again

Arsenal 1-5 Bayern Munich (Bayern Munich win 10-2 on aggregate)

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

Nightmares can strike twice. Arsenal repeated their first-leg disaster, not salvaging any pride but somehow humiliating themselves even worse than they did at the Allianz Arena last month.

They lost 5-1 to Bayern Munich at the Emirates, making a 10-2 aggregate score which sounds like a freak but is in fact a reflection of the difference between the two teams.

While Arsenal started the game playing for pride, even taking the lead in the first half, the second period was far too like the first leg in Munich.

Again Laurent Koscielny went off, this time for a red card rather than an injury. Again Arsenal collapsed. Bayern ran in five second-half goals with embarrassing ease.

The way that the Gunners allowed Bayern to run through them and score with every attack, just as they did in Munich, was embarrassing for a team with any pretence at competitive seriousness.

The first time it happened was bad enough but to collapse in the same way twice is remarkable. It says everything about a club whose discipline, unity and structure has evaporated at the highest level.

It leaves Arsenal out of the last eight of the Champions League. More importantly, it raises even more serious questions about whether Arsene Wenger is the right man for this job. Hundreds of Gunners fans protested against him before the game and what happened in the second half strengthened their claim.

Arsenal started on the front foot and in their new 4-3-3 system, without a No.10, they were more stable. Theo Walcott, high on the right, was dangerous, racing onto a Granit Xhaka pass in behind, stretching the Bayern defence.

Clearly, Bayern were not up for this, or at least not as up for it as Arsenal were. Trying not to lose 4-0 is a difficult mindset, and they struggled. So when Walcott jinked between Mats Hummels and Xabi Alonso, no one stopped him. He raced away from David Alaba and thumped a near-post shot over Manuel Neuer's head, smashing into the ceiling of the net.

Walcott, supported by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield, continued to take the fight to a Bayern team with no plan to stop them. Oxlade-Chamberlain played in Walcott, who was tripped by Alonso, and it was absurd that no penalty was awarded.

A goal then would have left Arsenal needing just two more. Shkodran Mustafi (below) soon found Walcott in the position he scored from, although when he tried the same finish it flew into the side netting.

Arsenal needed that second goal, and they did have one last chance after the break just before the game got away from them. Aaron Ramsey darted into the box, checked back and floated a clever cross over to the far post. Olivier Giroud jumped too early, sending what should have been a simple header well over the bar.

Soon after, their European season was over. Robert Lewandowski burst into the box, collided with Koscielny and went down. Referee Tasos Sidiropoulos gave a penalty and booked Koscielny, before discussing with an assistant and sending him off instead. Lewandowski then sent David Ospina the wrong way.

Bayern started to play with the intensity they had so lacked in the first half. Sensing that the second-leg win was on, they set about Arsenal and it did not take long for them to score again.

Ospina sliced a poor kick straight to Arjen Robben, who headed the ball forwards. Lewandowski flicked it back inside and Robben skipped past Alexis Sanchez and into space, beating Ospina easily enough.

The Gunners are not very good at keeping a lid on bad results to avoid embarrassment. They threw men forward, making three changes, all in the search of a consolation. They opened themselves up and Lewandowski had two good chances before Bayern scored their third. Douglas Costa, on for Robben, raced down the right and powered his shot beyond Ospina.

Mustafi, again lost without Koscielny, then passed straight to Alonso, who found Arturo Vidal. He dinked the ball over Ospina and that should have been that.

When Arsenal are this bad, they are unsaveable and they conceded a fifth to make the perfect symmetry with the first leg. Another Bayern break took them right down the middle, through a non-existent defence. Costa squared to Vidal, who scored their fifth.

ARSENAL: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey (Coquelin, 72 mins), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Giroud (Ozil, 72 mins), Sanchez (Perez, 73 mins). Unused subs: Cech, Gibbs, Gabriel.

BAYERN: Neuer, Rafinha, Martinez, Hummels, Alaba, Xabi Alonso, Vidal, Robben (Costa, 71 mins), Thiago (Kimmich 79), Ribery (Sanches, 79 mins), Lewandowski. Unused subs: Ulreich, Bernat, Muller, Coman.

Man of the Match: Arturo Vidal

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Anastasios Sidiropoulos

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