It was always going to take something very special to get a result in the Allianz Arena. In a game which typifies our entire season we walked away with our heads held high, despite the huge disappointment of going out of the Champions League.
The game had everything, it had drama, goals, good decisions and poor ones too. For the neutral it was a game of two sides with two entirely different agendas. Arsenal played to win, Bayern played not to lose. Bayern played a defensive game based on possession and movement without any thought for attacking save perhaps Robben who was given a licence to roam and try to break through. Arsenal tried to do the impossible, score goals against Bayern at the Allianz Arena.
Importantly, in a season full of lows for Arsenal fans last night felt like a watershed moment. From the first minute to the last I had hope and I’ll admit it felt a little bit odd. This season has been one of disappointment, of endless criticism and it feels like I’ve spent half the year defending Arsenal to all of my non-Arsenal friends. They have had plenty to throw at me – we sold our best player, we then went and sold Song – yes we bought replacements but are they good enough? Will Arsenal even finish in the top four? Should Arsène go?
I will tell you, it gets a little bit old hearing the same old tripe and I know all you fellow Gooners feel the same. It divides us, but as last night showed, it cannot conquer Arsenal. Roughly 3700 fans travelled to the Allianz and we could hear them over the 57000 Bayern fans. Forget the pitch for a moment, what a great job by the fans. Our away support is excellent and deserves a whole bag full of respect and credit for the job they did and I hope they enjoyed the performance they inspired.
Do not let yourself be fooled, yes we went out on away goals, but we ended an unbeaten run for the Bayern side stretching back to 2011, we scored two goals against the most miserly team in Germany, perhaps Europe and we looked, if only for just a few short minutes like we could turn it in our favour and score that crucial 3rd goal.
I often bang the drum of wanting to see the players care. I watched Giroud track robben 40 yards from the front to the back. I watched Gibbs marshall the back line and call it out. I watched Corporal Jenks put in a performance that would have had Roy Hodgeson sitting happily in his armchair, tea in hand thinking – “boy I’ve got a player there”. Between Gibbs and Jenkinson we have two of the best English full-backs in the country and they are getting better all the time. These players care too. Everyone gave everything for the shirt and we cannot ask more than that. Well maybe another goal, but we really cannot take anything away from an excellent performance.
As much as I don’t want to, I have to give some credit to Bayern, whose guerilla skirmishing-style defensive work kept us at bay for large chunks of the game. Early on they identifield Cazorla and Rosicky and began systematic fouling to break up our rhythm and stop us from getting any real hold on the game. We always looked like we could score goals, but clever defending by Bayern restricted us very well.
That is not to take anything away from our defensive performance, we managed to balance attacking threat with quality defending and whilst we managed to expose ourselves once or twice, we recovered well and it was good to see a defence looking forwards, not worrying about the ‘keeper behind them. Lukasz should start against Swansea. If we can carry on that focus through to the weekend, we can get a result against a Swansea side suffering a bit of a dip in form and we can keep up the pressure in the race for the much-coveted 4th position.
Sod that, I’ll take 3rd!
Have a great day Gooners and enjoy – for once it might not be about how crap we are, but how good we were and how close we got.