You can’t say we didn’t have chances

Last night highlighted Arsenal’s biggest weakness this season, they don’t know how to start games. Be it up-tempo or patient, deliberate football we are skittish, nervous and wasteful. We make rookie mistakes and it costs us chances and sometimes, we concede early goals because of it. This exacerbates the vicious cycle and we start the next game the same – worrying about making mistakes, worrying about conceding an early goal.

It took 7 minutes last night for us to make that mistake. We lost the ball after some needlessly intricate football in our own third. It was a “scabby cross” as Gareth Southgate so eloquently put it, but there was nothing scabby about the way Kroos got over the ball and thumped it into the ground and past a sprawling Sczcesny.

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You could see it on our faces. The dismay at conceding a goal so early, for all of Vermaelen’s spouting about keeping it tight and not conceding, there we were one nil down at home against Bayern Munich. Arsenal players started getting frustrated, spiky and started habitual, cynical fouls that noone is proud of, but they showed they were up for the fight.

It came as no surprise that Bayern got a second goal 13 or so minutes after the first with a goal-mouth scramble leaving Thomas Muller to volley past a clambering Sczcesny. If the first goal was “scabby” then the second described our season. A good corner into a dangerous area, Mertesacker was asleep and let Van Buyten get a run on him past Ramsey and flicked towards goal, Sczcesny parried out and Müller reacted first to volley high into the net. It is worth mentioning that anything less than the top of the net and Sczcesny would have saved it – so it was a great snap finish on instinct.


Bayern were strolling, languidly passing the ball about in complete control and it took Jack and Santi to try and ignite our first half. Both of them making lung-bursting runs, harrying, running at players and trying to start something positive. If there is anything positive to come out of the result, Jack and Santi Cazorla are top quality and can mix it with the best. If there was any doubt, it’s been carefully boxed, put in the closet soon to be forgotten.

At half time I tweeted that it was only to be expected (to be 2:0 down) we were playing with 10 men as Podolski had been completely invisible throughout. Lahm had him in his pocket and Podolski couldn’t get free of him. There is something to be said about familiarity, you know each others weaknesses, but it made it easy for Lahm.

In the second half Vermaelen was encouraged to get forward more and more. He started doubling up with Podolski and that really created space for Jack and Santi to play. The real Jack came out to play and Bayern couldn’t get near him. In Jack Wilshire we have a really, really amazing player and I hope he can see that we have the ingredients to do something special with perhaps a few additional signings. I don’t want him to get disillusioned, the power play between him, Santi and Arteta really set the tone for the second half.

It was a deflected free-kick that went out via Podolski (So he was actually there!) that went for an Arsenal corner, great ball in that bounced across the area and with Neuer stranded Podolski strolled and hit a dinked little header into the net, generating all the power on the ball himself. The timing was perfect and we continued to probe and press higher and higher up the pitch chasing the second goal. We had a chance when a great ball forwards from Rosicky (who was excellent when he came on) hit Walcott who took a touch, got into space and crossed to Giroud who had peeled off his man. Giroud hit first time on the volley and hit it a bit too well as it hit Neuer (who didn’t know a lot about it) and came back out.

I just felt then that perhaps a positive result might elude us.

Bayern scored shortly after, with Manzukic bundling the ball into the net, although there are possibilities that Sagna scored it for him. Either way we find ourselves needing to score three goals and keeping a clean sheet in the Allianz-Arena.

Arsène said in his post-match “The quality of my players is there, but they’re not getting their rewards. We’re not being rewarded for our efforts. I still have confidence in my players and in my team. But, on tonight’s evidence, there’s clearly work to be done.” – Hear hear Arsène.

Do I feel confident? Good lord no, but we can take something out of the game. We fought, we got a goal and we looked like we could cause them problems. More of the same attitude in the second leg please and perhaps we might have Gibbs back too. For now though, We have bigger fish to fry.

Saturday brings the Villains, buoyed by recent results we need to be focussed and get the three points. 4th place won’t win itself.

WG

6 thoughts on “You can’t say we didn’t have chances”

  1. Arsenal had a go but were not up to it at the back system needs to change maybe sweeper nnfront of back four and fullbacks used less as wings any way press love kicking arsenal and all fans and bloggers do is join in other than fighting back its YOUR CLUB THEY ARE KICKING

  2. The Arsenal that finished the game last night after the substitutions is the one that should start in the next leg..i wouldnt mind seeing sagna & kos at center backs as well,vermalaen is not looking good.

  3. Arsenal’s game strategy needs to change and quickly; it’s simply not working!
    As Arsenal fans, we cannot continue to accept that a bunch of professional players earning hundreds of thousand pounds a month don’t have the Drive to play the full 90 minutes; to play the second 45 minutes is just not acceptable.

  4. I highly doubt if the manager has any idea how galling this trophy called champions league qualification is to we the supporters. What comes out if he may not be aware is, in sub-lingual tones that “I know we can not win anything with you so just try and get that extra dollar for the club by qualifying for CL that will be just enough” The club to survive needs more cash than trophies”. My prediction is this this time we won’t even come near that trophy called number 4. See me on this at the end of the season

  5. If I’m totally honest, I went along on Tuesday to watch one of the best teams in Europe and a definite candidate for a place in the final.

    They showed us how to play the game – closing us down high up the pitch and not giving us any time to settle on the ball.
    Their movement and passing was crisp, accurate and flowing which led to good attacking football that was easy on the eye.
    Sagna was blowing bubbles for most of the first half, Vermaelen looked iscolated for much of the game, often have to contend with two Bayern players as Lahm overlapped.
    Cazorla tried hard but too many passes and flicks went astray.
    Yet again we had all the pre-match hype but a nervous start and the early goal pretty much killed the tie.
    We started the second half 2-0 down and actually looked dangerous.
    Was this because we were finally competing with Bayern, I don’t think so.
    Bayern felt they had the tie wrapped up and took their foot off the pedal.
    They saw how vulnerable our defence is and felt even if they lost 3-2 they would score at the AA.

    I’ve had a real whinge on here about our team and manager and the reason is that I, along with a lot of fans can see that this team and manager are not able to function consistently at a high level. The fact that occasionally we see glimpses of greatness makes it all the more frustrating.

    There is something fundimentally wrong with the way the team approaches and starts every game and what is worrying is that AW either can’t see that or, even more worrying, can’t put it right.

    Having supported the club for 45 years I know that players and managers are transititional but the club that I love will always be there.
    On that basis, I would support the removal of AW whether upstairs or elsewhere.
    Many supporters I have spoken to say if we got rid of AW who could we replace him with and that we should stick with the devil we know.
    That is a poor excuse. My support evaporated for AW when, in an interview he stated that his job was to ensure the club was run in a financially viable way.
    Mr Wenger, your job is to win trophies, its the board’s job to ensure they balance the books at the end of each financial year or season.

    I would be happy for AW to stay if David Dein returned to take up the role he had which suited AW and has not been replicated by Mr Gazedis, who, for me, is a glorified account.

  6. I still think AW should stay because he really faithful and contributed a lot for the club. The only problem he has is that he keep faith with under achieved player even in important (win or out) games like this. And the player is Ramsey!
    He just not good enough for gunner style of play. If the boss keep playing him, we are like playing 10 pro +1 school boy against 11 pro! The whole team have to put more effort (tired) into the games for him… Coquelin is 3X better then him… And another player that should keep off the pitch is Gervinho, We can’t keep let them play & hope they perform, its gamble. Anyway hope the boss know what he is doing. Hope my opinion read by the boss.

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