Game in a sentence
A thrilling match with Bayern proving they’re the superiour side against Arsenal.
- Before kick-off, it was all hugs for Lukas Podolski from his fellow German international teammates. But once the whistle was blown, the warm embrace turned to rivalry.
- There was a large contingent of Bayern fans at the Emirates stadium. The media reported that some of them had set off a few harmless flares, which made it appear as if fog had settled in the stadium.
- It was a fast-paced game. The fans made plenty of noise and at times were even drowning out the commentators’ voices on TV.
- Most pundits and analysts were predicting an obvious Bayern win, but by no means an easy one. The German side approached this game with much caution, never once underestimating their opponents.
- For Arsenal the past few days have been very turbulent. Just when they appeared to come together, they lost to a lower division team in the FA Cup. The frustration was seen during Arsene Wenger’s recent press conferences.
- As for Bayern, their main concern before the game dealt more with the line-up. There was much talk over which duo Jupp Heynckes would opt for. At the end he chose to go with Thomas Mueller and Mario Mandzukic instead of Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben.
- Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen was in for Kieran Gibbs in the left-back position, who was out due to an injury. Gunners glad to have defender Laurent Koscielny back in the line-up though.
- It was a fast paced game and one of the more entertaining ones in the Champions League thus far, despite Bayern’s two-goal lead. Arsenal started with confidence and passed admirably, but that certainty was soon shattered in the first 45 minutes of the match. The German side proved to be the prominent team with a strong performance from all its players.
- Bayern didn’t lie when they said they’re hungrier and more motivated than ever to win the prestigious club competition, especially after making it to the final twice in the past three years. Merciless in their attacks, the German side scored a goal in the 7th minute of the game.
- Toni Kross unleashed a beautiful volley from a Thomas Mueller pass and fizzed the ball past Wojciech Szczesny, who honestly stood no chance.
- That goal, however, didn’t hamper the London side’s morale. Not yet, at least. It wasn’t until the second goal that Arsenal’s spirit was starting to take a hit.
- From a set piece, Van Buyten tried to head the ball in, which was blocked but not cleared by Szczesny. Mueller, the goal vulture that he is, squeezed the ball in with a sureness of touch to make it 2-0. The German side’s second goal even brought a smile to Jupp Heynckes’ face (who must be the cutest 67 year-old there is in the game).
- Gunners defensive responsibilities were appalling and Mario Mandzukic nearly made it three for Bayern before the end of the first half.
- As for Daniel van Buyten, the Belgian that was labelled as Bayern’s weakest link, he certainly silenced his critics tonight. Buyten was involved in the Mueller goal and helped to block a Per Mertesacker chance in the 34th minute. For a player that hadn’t played many games, he was communicating fluidly with the rest of his teammates.
- Going into this match, it was Bayern’s defence that was questioned. The Bavarian side, were without Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng. While they’ve held a stellar record in the Bundesliga, only conceding seven goals, it was allowing an equal number of goals in the group stage that had some doubt the actual strength of their defence.
- While there was much talk of Arsenal possibly exploiting the German side’s defensive weaknesses, none came to fruition. They were blocking, intercepting and sacrificing their bodies to prevent Arsenal from creating any substantial chances.
- Arsenal’s performance, on the other hand, started strong and then dipped, only to come back to life after the 45th minute. In the first half, the majority of Arsenal’s attacks came from the right side of the pitch as well as the centre, with Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott dictating most of them.
- Early in the game, Arsenal created two good chances. In the first few minutes, Cazorla made a cross but there was no red shirt to take it. A few minutes later, Bacary Sagna, also from the right flank, passed the ball to Walcott, who created a similar chance, but there was no Gunner to capitalize on the cross.
- For most of the first half, Arsenal only appeared threatening during the build up. Bayern’s defense also made it incredibly difficult for them side to set up any quality chances. The Bavarians succeeded, time and again, at breaking up most of the English side’s opportunities deep in their zone.
- Franck Ribery and David Alaba were a killer partnership from the left-side, but it was Lahm and the man with the biggest question mark around him, Daniel van Buyten, that got involved in the most menacing of opportunities.
- Appearing defeated, Podolski threw his team a lifeline in the 55th minute. From a questionable corner that was set up by Wilshere, Podolski chests the ball past Manuel Neuer. Dante should have cleared it. Bayern concede their first goal after a clean sheet of five Bundesliga games. Arsenal very lucky to score on that opportunity.
- Although it wasn’t the best of goals, it was enough to bring back Gunners’ confidence. Arsenal should be credited with their second-half performance to some extend. They continued to attack and press high up the pitch.
- In the 71st minute, Olivier Giroud, who was substituted on for Podolski, received the ball from Walcott and tried to rip it in, only for Manuel Neuer to make a hard save. This was one of the English side’s better chances to equalize.
- But just when there was hope again for Arsenal, Mandzukic got hold of a long ball and slide it to Robben, who found Lahm. The German full-back crossed it back to Mandzukic. The Croatian somehow found the net in the 77th minute and gave Bayern the two-goal lead again. Szczesny seemed completely lost on that play.
- Mario Gomez was substituted on for Mandzukic a minute later. Within seconds the German international had two great opportunities to score, yet to no avail. This game could have resulted in Bayern having an even greater lead.
- Arsenal definitely played a stronger second half, but Bayern proved to be the superior team.
- It was also a very yellow night, as eight players were booked. Sadly, Bayern will be without Schweinsteiger for the second leg of this match.
- Unsure if the outcome of today’s game will impact Wenger’s future with the club. But there was widespread speculation that more than exiting from the CL competition, it is Arsenal’s finish in the EPL that will determine his fate.
- As for Bayern, their impressive away record continues. Only question remains, is Manuel Neuer still bored in net? If so, blame Bayern’s defense,
3. Van Buyten