Arsenal 1-3 Bayern Munich
When Robin van Persie announced he would not sign a new contract last summer, he cited that it was because he felt the club’s ambitions did not match his.
Sure enough, after the slide from title contenders to fourth place contenders and two cups exits in a week, who can really argue the Dutchman’s point that the Gunners do not possess a hunger for success?
To be fair if Van Persie was wrong and Arsenal really did have serious aspirations to be amongst the elite of European football, you would have witnessed more guts from the board (from chairman to Wenger) off the pitch in strengthening the squad and more guts from the players on the pitch in giving their utmost effort.
But we have gotten neither and when you consider that even Galatasaray have bolstered their squad with Drogba and Sneijder despite being outsiders for the Champions League, you have to wonder how ambitious Arsenal are at all?
Is the club in it for the trophy or the profit?
Arsenal fell to a damaging 3-1 defeat in the first-leg of this round of 16 affair on Tuesday. So damaging was the result that the Gunners may have just been dumped out of the competition even before the return visit to Munich.
At this stage last year, Wenger’s men succumbed to a 4-0 thrashing in Milan. That was a deficit as good as impossible to overcome and today’s 3-1 defeat, with priceless away goals in Bayern’s favour, means this year’s mountain to climb is even higher than a season ago.
Then again there are miracles in football, and indeed one almost took place when AC Milan arrived at the Emirates to complete last year’s tie, but Bayern are different. The scenario this time is different.
An FA cup exit at the hands of Blackburn meant the build-up to this massive occasion had all gone wrong and after just seven minutes today, it continued to go wrong for the Gunners.
Muller lashed a cross into Arsenal’s area and the ball landed perfectly at the edge of the box for Roos who did not miss his volley as the visitors took a 1-0 lead.
It had not taken much for Arsenal’s critics to be proven right then, and despite a faint effort to respond, some dull defending from a Bayern corner saw Szcznesny drop the ball at the mouth of Arsenal’s goal for Muller to pounce home Bayern’s second.
Wenger’s men revised their response after going 2-0 behind and a more encouraging second-half display forced a goal from Podolski who took advantage of Neur’s mistake from an Arsenal corner to head the ball into a unguarded net.
The scenes at the Emirates were beginning to appear like shades of the 2-2 comeback against Barcelona in 2010, and seconds after coming on for Arsenal’s goalscorer, Olivier Giroud nearly delivered the equalizer, volleying Walcott’s cross right at Neur who knew little about the Frenchman’s powerful effort. Any other side of the goalkeeper and Arsenal would have been level.
But it went from looking to go level to looking down the barrel as far as Arsenal’s Champions Leagues hopes are concerned as a swift move on the right flank from Bayern was completed in comical fashion with Szczesny and Mario Mandzukic clashing in no man’s land to somehow deflect the ball into the net.