Arsenal’s European decline continued as German Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich outclassed and condemned the gunners to a demoralising 5-1 defeat.
Arjen Robben fired the hosts into the lead in stylish fashion, with an incredible rising effort into the left top corner from 20 yards. Alexis Sanchez equalised before the break by converting the follow-up from his missed penalty kick.
Laurent Koscielny sustained a hamstring injury shortly after the half-time break and Arsenal’s quality in performance fell rapidly. Lewandowski started the goal rout with a header into the bottom corner and Thiago doubled their advantage immediately after.
Ospina was forced into a series of saves to preserve Arsenal’s two-goal deficit but was caught wrong-footed when Thiago’s low half volley deflected past him off Francis Coquelin. Muller marked his appearance from the substitutes bench with a decisive fifth goal with two minutes remaining, to almost send the tie far from Arsenal’s reach.
Bayern Munich dictated possession and outplayed their English opponents to practically confirm their place in the Champions League quarter-finals. They had 69% possession and 24 attempts, whilst completing 90% of their attempted passes.
It was an incredibly embarrassing defeat for Arsene Wenger, who is under increasing pressure following recent domestic performances. This defeat is likely to intensify the pressure currently mounting on the Frenchman.
Arsenal will attempt to comeback from an improbable four-goal deficit when the two meet at the Emirates Stadium for the second leg on 7 March.
The German champions outplayed and outclassed Arsenal, who was extremely underwhelming. In the early stages, they were struggling to get out of their own half and Bayern dictated possession. The Germans were high pressing, which made it difficult for Arsenal to form an attack from deep positions.
Bayern were so flexible in the final third and had several routes to goal. The main threats came from the creativity of Thiago, the long-range shooting abilities of Alonso and Vidal and the overlapping runs between Robben and Lahm.
The first goal originated from the right hand side when Arjen Robben cut inside to launch an extraordinary strike into the top corner. Kieran Gibbs allowed him the freedom to cut inside and Francis Coquelin backed off him, which gifted him the opportunity to shoot.
Arsenal gained more confidence in the attack, following Bayern Munich’s opening goal. They began to pose more threats on the hosts’ defence and utilized Alexis Sanchez, who was clearly their biggest threat.
The gunners were awarded a passage back into the game when Robert Lewandowski clearly and clumsily fouled Laurent Koscielny inside the box. Alexis Sanchez missed his initial penalty kick, when Neuer sprawled to his right hand side to parry the ball. Sanchez remained alert, controlled the ball on his chest and steered a low volley into the far bottom corner.
Arsenal ended the first half in a promising manor with Manuel Neuer pulling off two saves to thwart Granit Xhaka and Mezut Ozil. The tempo was much slower when the score was level and it suited Arsenal, who were being bamboozled and outplayed by Bayern’s passing master class.
Laurent Koscielny sustained a suspected hamstring injury and was replaced by Brazilian defender Gabriel. This set-back proved detrimental and Robert Lewandowski signalled the beginning of a dismal and miserable night for the visitors.
Phillip Lahm overlapped Robben and delivered a cross into the heart of the penalty for Lewandowski to convert with an accurate header. Mustafi was at fault, he jumped too late and was subsequently towered over by the Polish striker.
Bayern Munich increased their lead to two-goals moments later when they ripped through Arsenal’s weak defence on 57 minutes. Alonso played a penetrative pass to Lewandowski and Mustafi was busy shouting demands at Hector Bellerin when Thiago swooped through to steer the ball past Ospina.
Lewandowski’s strength and persistence to cause havoc was creating traumatic problems for Shkodran Mustafi. He was out of his depth, lethargic and mentally slow in his native Germany and the supporters will surely be asking questions of his capabilities.
The home team were raiding Arsenal’s defence and were hungry in search for a decisive fourth goal. Javi Martinez forced Ospina into a world class save with his header and Gibbs should’ve been sent off for handling Robben’s follow-up on the goal line, after Lewandowski struck the crossbar.
The fourth goal was inevitable and it came via Spanish midfielder Thiago, who bagged his second goal of the match. His low strike deflected fortuitously off Francis Coquelin and beyond the Colombian goalkeeper.
Arsenal introduced Olivier Giroud in the last 15 minutes but were unable to engage an effective response. Although it was an attacking move, to bring on a striker for a defensive midfielder, it seemed the complete opposite.
Mezut Ozil should be ashamed of himself for his performance this evening at the Allianz Arena. He seemed to lack interest and effort, as he hopelessly strolled around the pitch in Germany like a spoilt teenager. It was incredibly frustrating to watch such a talented player, perform in a manor deemed unworthy to wear an Arsenal shirt.
Thomas Muller left Arsenal licking their wounds as he practically secured Bayern’s place in the quarter-finals with an 88th minute strike. Fellow substitute Kimmich stole the ball from Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thiago assisted Muller for the hosts’ fifth goal. Muller, who’s struggled for goal scoring form this season, patiently delayed his strike and sent a low left footed effort into the far bottom corner.
Arsene Wenger’s future at Arsenal is unlikely to continue into next season, with this embarrassing 5-1 defeat exacerbating matters at the Emirates Stadium. Their style is outdated, the players lack consistency and the team lack fluency, telepathy and understanding.