Following the first leg humiliation at Munich we had it all to do in the second leg to progress into the quarter finals of the Champions League. We had to win 4-0 or equal their score from last time or even score more! We would have to be at our absolute best and even then it would be a miracle but stranger things have happened in football. I had come all the way down from Brighton to watch it so I didn’t want Arsenal to let me down!
Before the game even started there was action off the pitch as around 200 Arsenal fans marched from Highbury to the Emirates in protest against Wenger being the manager. I think that this is completely disrespectful to Wenger and he doesn’t deserve it but I can understand why some fans would do it. We have to pay the most to watch Arsenal and we have gone through the same thing every season and fans have had enough as a result.
The protests should have been against the board and the players as well though as they are to blame too. I would never do this but some fans obviously think it is the only way to make change at the club. How much will the club listen to them is the question though?
Bayern fans were also protesting as they threw loads of paper onto the pitch. They held up a banner in protest about the cost of tickets for the match which is something Arsenal fans can definitely agree with!
Arsenal started with a attacking team but Welbeck had to withdraw from the starting line up after he was ill in the warm up. It was a shame for him as he’s been out injured for a while and a big loss for us as he’s played really well since coming back. He was replaced by Giroud up front which I wasn’t that against but I would have rather Welbeck or Lucas Perez who was on the bench again.
Better news though was Alexis Sanchez started again as he should always do and Özil was on the bench due to ‘illness’.
After the classic ‘Champions’ music, (which might be the last time we hear it at the Emirates for a while), the match kicked off and Arsenal surprisingly started the brighter team. Sanchez was unsurprisingly involved and he nearly set up Walcott early on but the England forward’s touch let him down and Neuer aka ‘sweeper keeper’ came rushing out off his line to clear.
We then created more chances as Giroud went close but it was Walcott who was the main attacking threat. Bayern’s defence couldn’t handle his pace and this was shown in the 20th minute as we took the lead. Walcott forced his way through their defence before absolutely hammering the ball past Neuer into the roof of the net. I couldn’t believe it went in as Neuer usually saves everything but he couldn’t handle the power of the shot and it gave the crowd some hope. 1 down 3 to go!
Walcott then caused Bayern more problems as he went down in the box and claimed for a penalty. However the referee who had help from his assistant on the goal line waved away the appeals. I thought from where I was sitting that it was a penalty but I could be a bit biased. Having seen the replays though and heard other people’s opinions I think we got unlucky there and it could have changed the whole game.
The penalty incident didn’t effect Walcott at all though as he nearly scored a carbon copy goal to his first but unfortunately this time it hit the side netting. Bayern then hit back as Lewandowski should have scored had he not scuffed his shot wide.
The score ended 1-0 to us at half time and it was one of the best we had played all season if not one of the best I have ever seen us play. We pressured them a lot and looked really up for it, we just needed to play the same in the second half.
Arsenal did continue to threaten early on in the second half and really should have made it 2-0, after Ramsey crossed the ball for Giroud, (who had all the time in the world) only for him to head over the bar. You just have to take those chances in big games like this!
Then came the moment which killed the game and the tie off completely as Koscielny brought down Lewandowski in the box and was eventually sent off. It was a bit of chaos really, as the referee had originally given our captain a yellow card, but then changed his mind after talking to the assistant behind the goal. To be fair I did think it was a red card and a penalty but who knows and we were unfortunate that it was a Champions League game where they have officials everywhere.
So we were down to 10 men and up stepped Lewandowski who slotted the ball into the net to surely put the game out of reach. This was then followed by a goal from Robben after Alexis Sanchez lost the ball in a bad position.
Wenger tried to keep us fighting by making three changes in Özil, Coquelin and Lucas Perez but this was just to give the players coming off a rest as the game was over. Chamberlain kept running and fighting until the very end and really impressed me throughout as he always looked to create something but unfortunately we didn’t have enough players like him. Even Alexis Sanchez didn’t have his best game but he was still better than most players and was at least looking like he was trying.
Bayern were in complete control and they should have scored a third through Lewandowski again as he hit the post. But then the domination and extra man paid off as substitute Costa easily made it 3-1 to the visitors after a quick counter attack.
Chilean and international teammate of Alexis Sanchez, Vidal, finished things off near the end as he scored a late double. The first, lifting the ball over a helpless Ospina before tapping in his second and Bayern’s fifth, (sound familiar) into a empty net after our 3 man defence was carved open. Should we have brought on Gabriel? I agreed with Wenger at the time as we needed goals but to save us from humiliation again maybe we should have. Having said that though Gabriel replaced Koscielny in the reverse fixture and was almost non existent in the game as they went on to score five, so I don’t think it mattered at all!
So the score ended 5-1 again which is the third time it has finished like that in recent seasons. It was annoying but at least this time we sort of had an excuse as having 10 men completely changed the game and we played really well before that.
It means that we have now crashed out of the last 16 in the Champions League for a seventh consecutive season. It also meant that we lost 10-2 on aggregate which is one of the heaviest defeats in the knockout stages. It was also the biggest defeat we have suffered at the Emirates and this all piles more and more pressure on Wenger and the club.
We now face Lincoln City in the FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday which I will be at again and hopefully (surely) we have to win and I get to see us win for a second time this season! If we don’t win then I fear for Wenger and it will be a lot more embarrassing to say the least against a non-league team.
Since the result, Wenger and the club, including Sir Chips Keswick, (what a name) have come out and said they will take everything under consideration at the end of the season and make a decision on what to do next. So for now I think Wenger will stay at least to the end of the season, so fans should just get behind him and hope he can end on a high (which he deserves) by either winning the FA Cup or finishing in the top four again as both will be harder than ever.
What will happen on Saturday? Can we win the FA Cup with strong teams still in it? Can we finish in the toughest top four battle ever? No matter what happens, what will the decision be at the end of the season? Wenger in or Wenger out?