Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Ozil, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanogo
Subs: Fabianski, Monreal, Jenkinson, Rosicky, Gnabry, Podolski, Giroud
10 man Arsenal fell to a brave 2-0 defeat against Bayern Munich at the Emirates tonight.
Arsene Wenger pulled something of a surprise with his starting line-up, keeping faith with Yaya Sanogo after his display against Liverpool in the FA Cup and Olivier Giroud’s disciplinary issues.
Arsenal started brightly but had Wojciech Szczesny to thank in the 3rd minute. From Bayern’s first attack Toni Kroos hammered a shot towards the top corner and only a great save tipped the ball away from the top corner.
Arsenal then got on top of the game with Yaya Sanogo testing Neuer in the Bayern goal. The ball came to the young Frenchman in the box, he sidefooted it towards goal and the keeper got down quickly to save.
Moments later Arsenal had a great chance to take the lead when Mesut Ozil won an 8th minute penalty. The German stepped up to take it but his casual looking spot kick was saved by Neuer, making it Ozil’s second penalty miss in the Champions League this season.
The atmosphere took a hit after that as Bayern grew into the game and Arjen Robben dived to win a free kick which he smashed into the wall then over the bar.
Mathieu Flamini shot over the bar as Arsenal made a rare foray forward, and after a spell of Bayern possession good work by Sanogo sent Oxlade-Chamberlain through on goal but once more Neuer was in control and came out well to clear.
Mario Mandzukic headed a free kick not far wide after Ozil had conceded a free kick in the Arsenal half, before Arsenal were forced into a change. Kieran Gibbs looked to pull a hamstring and he was replaced in the 31st minute by Nacho Monreal.
The Germans began to put Arsenal under real pressure with Robben shooting from inside the area only to see it blocked by Mertesacker, and the cheating Dutchman was involved in a major incident in the 37th minute.
He was sent in behind the Arsenal defence and got a toe to a high ball. Although caught by Szczesny, the ball went away from goal and he went down as if he was shot. The referee gave Bayern a penalty and showed the keeper a red card. Considering the ball was going out for a goal kick, it seemed very harsh.
Santi Cazorla was sacrificed for Lukasz Fabianski and although the Pole didn’t save Alaba’s penalty, his first action was to watch it rebound off the outside of the post and away. Justice, of sorts.
The Gunners managed to see off the Bayern threat until half-time and the game, remarkably, was scoreless at the break. There was a half-time change as Rafinha replaced the booked Boateng.
Bayern were dominant from the off, and a poor Monreal clearance gave Kroos a shooting chance but it was straight at Fabianski. Laurent Koscielny found space behind from an Arsenal free kick, but couldn’t quite get the ball out from under his feet and his shot was tame.
The pressure was huge and it was no surprise when the opening goal came in the 54th minute. Bayern worked it down the right, cut it back for Kroos, Arsenal were pushed too far back and the midfielder’s shot curled into the top corner to make it 1-0.
The game was then played mostly in Arsenal’s final third as Bayern pinged the ball around like it was a training game, the Gunners forced to defend from side to side as they moved the ball.
Fabianski had to save from Robben as the cheating Dutchman got in behind Koscielny and the German pressure grew and grew. Robben curled a shot wide, Bayern passed the ball from side to side to side to side to try and work openings, but Arsenal stayed as solid as they could.
Arsene Wenger made his final change in the 74th minute, bringing on Rosicky for Oxlade-Chamberlain, but little changed. Arsenal lacked any kind of outlet, and the visitors continued to dominate.
It was relentless from Bayern, and last ditch from Arsenal when they did get near the ball. Rosicky got booked, Koscielny tried to drive Arsenal forward, but in the 88th minute Bayern got a second when Muller headed home from close range.
It was hardly a surprise but still a bit cruel on Wenger’s team. It could have been worse as Kroos hit the post with a low shot, but even still a 2-0 defeat leaves them with a huge job to do in the return leg.
And Arjen Robben is a cunt.