Arsenal bowed out of the Champions League at the Last 16 stage as they were handed a thumping 5-1 defeat by Bayern Munich at the Emirates on Tuesday.
Arsenal were knocked out of the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, as they suffered another damning 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the second leg of the first knockout round at the Emirates Stadium to go down 10-2 on aggregate.
The performance on Tuesday night was much better than the embarrassment in the first leg, as Arsenal fought valiantly, and blew Bayern away in the first half. However, despite the premium of chances being created by the hosts, they could only manage a solitary goal before half-time – a thumping strike by Theo Walcott in the 20th minute.
Arsenal 1-5 (2-10 on agg.) Bayern FT:
Pass accuracy: 83%-88%
Chances created: 8-12
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 7, 2017
They started the second half on the front foot again, but went down to ten men in the 53rd minute as skipper Laurent Koscielny was sent off in controversial fashion after he brought down Robert Lewandowski in the Arsenal box.
The Polish striker duly converted from the resulting penalty to level things up, and that opened the floodgates as four goals in 17 minutes from Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal completed the humiliation for Arsene Wenger’s men.
Here are the major talking points to emerge out of another thumping loss for Arsenal that saw them go out of the Champions League at the Last 16 stage yet again.
Seven In A Row
Tuesday night saw Arsenal being knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16, and the North London club seem to be making a habit of bowing out at this stage.
Arsene Wenger does have a very impressive record of qualifying for the Champions League in each of his seasons with Arsenal, but recent history paints a very grim picture of their performance in Europe’s premier club competition.
7 – Arsenal have been eliminated from the last 16 stage of the Champions League in each of the last seven seasons. Familiarity.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 7, 2017
Tuesday night saw the Gunners being eliminated at this stage for the seventh successive season, but the embarrassment doesn’t stop there. The magnitude of Arsenal’s loss this time around has been all the more appalling.
Wenger’s men lost 10-2 on aggregate, which is the worst that any English side has ever suffered in the competition’s history, and the 1-5 loss at the Emirates is also their biggest defeat at the majestic stadium. While they have drawn the shortest straw in recent seasons, such losses are the last thing you expect from a club the size of Arsenal.
Ox And Walcott Lead A Valiant Fightback
Arsenal entered this match with an imposing 5-1 deficit to Bayern and an unenviable task of overturning that was at hand. Qualifying for the next stage was always going to be a tough ask, but that was always going to be the case after the deep hole they dug for themselves in the first leg.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain attempted 10 take-ons vs. Bayern and completed every single one of them.
Arsenal’s only positive. pic.twitter.com/ifs3QxatND
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 7, 2017
However, as soon as the referee blew his whistle for kick-off, it was one-way street for much of the first half as Arsenal took to the game with passion and spirit. The initial 45 minutes of the match saw Arsene Wenger’s men take the battle to Bayern and two players led that charge with aplomb – Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
This has been a season of resurgence for Walcott, who has finally found his calling on the right wing. Driving runs with the ball, late runs into the box off it and clever change of pace have been his trademark and it was more of the same on Tuesday as he produced another fine performance that was rewarded with his strike past Manuel Neuer.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has also seen a period of revival in the last month or so, having been deployed as a central midfielder by Wenger. On Tuesday, he was absolutely sensational as he restricted Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso in the centre of the park and tenacity saw Arsenal carve chance after chance in the first period.
In the end, it didn’t matter much, but Arsene Wenger would surely have been left impressed by the performances of two players who have been maligned a lot in previous seasons at the Emirates Stadium.
Did The Referee Kill The Game?
The match was mired in controversy as referee Tasos Sidiropoulos and his assistants gave some rather contentious decisions that undeniably impacted the game and its result. The first of these saw Walcott being denied a legitimate penalty not long after he had put Arsenal in front.
Seen the “penalty-situation” many times.
– no penalty
– and Koscielny should not have been sent off of course
— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) March 7, 2017
In one of the many promising attacking sequences in the first half, Walcott received the ball inside the Bayern box was brought down by Xabi Alonso who didn’t get anything on the ball. Arturo Vidal could also count himself lucky after he was let off despite catching Alexis Sanchez with his boot.
The final nail in the coffin came when Koscielny was sent off in the 53rd minute for bringing Robert Lewandowski down in his box. But, closer look would reveal that it shouldn’t even have been adjudged as a penalty in the first place, let alone ending with the Arsenal skipper being sent on his way.
That was because, as Arsene Wenger pointed out in his post-match press conference, the Bayern striker was actually offside meaning the sequence ended up to be rather harsh on the Gunners. The capitulation following the Frenchman’s dismissal was damning, but there’s a case for Arsenal being denied by poor officiating as well.
The Writing Seems To Be On The Wall
While Arsenal can feel hard done by by the referee’s poor showing on the night, it does not take away the fact that they have been absolutely shambolic since the start of February. In this period, they have played seven games and the Gunners have lost five of these.
Arsenal fans gather outside the Emirates Stadium to sing songs demanding the sacking of Arsene Wenger
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) March 8, 2017
The Gunners have only managed to beat relegation-battling Hull City in the Premier League and non-league outfit Sutton United in the FA Cup. The losses, on the other hand, have been damning and more consequential.
Losses to Watford, Chelsea and Liverpool in the Premier League have put them out of the running for the title, and Arsenal have lost their place inside the Top 4 as well. Meanwhile, they have also lost twice to Bayern to be eliminated from the Champions League.
The FA Cup now remains the only competition they have a realistic chance of winning, and a group of supporters seem to have had enough of the Arsenal boss, as was reflected in the pre-match protests outside the Emirates. Does it signal the beginning the end for Arsene Wenger?
Another European Title Beckons For Bayern?
Bayern Munich have been desperately chasing Champions League glory ever since their last triumph in the competition in 2013. However, they fell short on their pursuits at the semifinal stage in the last three seasons, and they appointed Carlo Ancelotti in order to win the competition once again.
In the Champions League 2016/17
Most goals: Bayern Munich (24)
Most passes: Bayern Munich (5,232)
Most chances created: Bayern Munich (125) pic.twitter.com/XBhUB5bbgZ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 8, 2017
The Bavarians struggled during the initial stages of Ancelotti’s reign at the Allianz Arena, as they made a late charge towards their customary place at the top of the Bundesliga table, and finished runners up in their group in the Champions League, having lost twice in the first stage.
However, Ancelotti has slowly but surely managed to shape this side in his image, making a more effective use of the possession with directness and fluidity in attack. Deploying Thiago Alcantara as the team’s orchestrator has been a masterstroke and the ball is now rotated at electric speeds.
The team is improving constantly, and the squad has gelled in impressively. And while, they will be up against more formidable opposition in the next stages, they are looking every bit the contender for the Champions League title.