Bayern Munich v Arsenal - UEFA Champions League Second Round Second Leg

Losing sucks.

It’s obvious of course, but we tend to forget how the suckiness of losing can distort reality. Like for example, the reality of Arsenal’s 3-1 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich. Arsenal had two matches in which to show up probably the best club side in European football at the moment. In the first leg, after playing on roughly equal terms with the German champions for twenty minutes at the Emirates, Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczęsny was sent off in a seven second sequence that completely changed the tenor of the game. Arsenal were outplayed for the rest of the match and conceded two goals.

Key in that sequence was Arjen Robben, who brilliantly beat his markers and found a perfect moment to run into space, forcing Szczęsny out of his goal early resulting in a collision and sending off that few if anyone protested. One could say in a sense that it was the skill of Robben that created the decisive moment. This is the same Robben who made a ridiculous, trolly dive in the second leg, which had very little impact on the match whatsoever. And yet here was the villain for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:

“What made the difference was the decision to send our goalkeeper off in the first game. That decision had a huge impact. It was on the same player who got the penalty again tonight and that’s a regret. Robben is very good at getting the maximum of nothing. He’s a great player as well a very good diver but it’s part of him.”

But this time it had little or no impact on the direction of the match, nor did it cancel out Robben’s skill in the first leg.

Robben wasn’t the only victim of lazy shortsightedness, either. Mesut Ozil, the hero of Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Everton in the FA Cup, is now yet again the insta-villain after failing to produce the kind of performance which was always going to be a tall order, as it is a tall order for any underdog to travel and expect a positive result, particularly one which requires scoring two or more unanswered goals.

Recency bias. It’s a thing.