Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Cazorla, Ozil, Podolski; Giroud.
Subs: Viviano, Flamini, Gnabry, Jenkinson, Rosicky, Hayden
Arsenal secured a creditable 1-1 draw against Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich but on a night when they were made to chase the ball for long periods at the Allianz Arena they couldn’t find the cutting edge to overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit. Bastian Schweinsteiger gave the home side a deserved lead on 54 minutes only for Lukas Podolski to smash home a controversial equaliser within three minutes. Arsenal pressed for a second in the last ten minutes but as energy levels ran low they came close to losing on the night. In injury-time Koscielny brought down Robben for his second penalty of the tie, only for Fabianski to make a fine save from Muller.
Arsene Wenger charged an attacking line-up with securing a fast start; Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla backed up by the pace of Chamberlain and guile of Ozil. At the back captain Thomas Vermaelen replaced Gibbs while on the bench Wenger named only six substitutes after UEFA pointed out at the last minute that Ryo Miyaichi was in fact ineligible to take part.
In a frantic opening Bastian Schweinsteiger had the first shot on goal stinging the palms of Fabianski from distance while a great break by Chamberlain forced Dante into a desperate foul which resulted in a booking for the Brazilian defender.
Wenger paced the touchline, clapping his men as they closed down in midfield. They they needed to with Bayern probing down both wings in the opening 15 minutes. At the other end tenacious work by Podolski saw him turn Javi Martinez and whip in a decent cross which was blocked for a corner. Manuel Neuer had no problem catching Cazorla’s set piece delivery and when the Bavarians reached the Arsenal box in double-quick time Robben bounced an effort over Fabianski’s bar.
Nerves jangling, the Arsenal support entertained themselves with the prospect of forthcoming adventures. “Wem-ber-ley, Wem-ber-ley, we’re the famous Arsenal and we’re going to Wem-ber-ley,” they sang with gusto.
Seconds later Bayern had the ball in the back of the net. But as Martinez went to celebrate his volleyed finish from a free-kick the linesman correctly whacked up his flag for offside. In the build-up Podolski had picked up a yellow for booting the ball away after Vermaelen’s initial foul on Lahm.
Arteta joined the German in the book just before the half-hour mark as he lunged after the ball having miscontrolled. Bayern were definitely in the ascendancy, the Gunners unable to retain possession for any length of time.
It took a brilliant run by Chamberlain, charging like a bull off the wing, to relieve the pressure. For the second time the home side resorting to hacking him down. Cazorla’s free-kick from most of 30-yards was deflected wide of goal and although Giroud leapt well to make contact with Ozil’s subsequent corner there wasn’t enough pace to seriously trouble Neuer.
Eight minutes before the break. Koscielny made an important block from a Robben shot after Bayern’s favourite tactic of escaping behind Vermaelen again nearly paid dividends. Mario Mandzukic headed over, Fabianski denied Mario Gotze and Koscielny and Mertesacker were forced into a series of last ditch clearances, but at the break Arsenal were decent value for the 0-0.
Tomas Rosicky did some salacious stretching in the dugout before replacing Mesut Ozil at the break, the German suffering from a tight hamstring.
The nasty little cheat Robben threw himself to the ground hoping to win a penalty five minutes after the break. The referee waved him to his feet but remarkably chose not to book the pathetic shit.
Not long after Bayern took the lead. Ribery danced down their left, passed to Schweinsteiger who waited for Fabianski to dive before lofting the ball over the Pole.
Amazingly the lead only lasted two minutes. Podolski appeared to push Lahm to the floor as he escaped into the box but he didn’t stop running at goal and blasted the ball past Neuer at the near post from a tight angle just four yards out. It was a fine finish against his old club. In fairness, it probably shouldn’t have been allowed to stand. It was a foul. But fuck it. Blame Robben for being a prick.
Smelling blood, Arsenal were quick to attack again. Chamberlain fired from outside the box forcing Neuer to save. All across the pitch you could sense the adrenalin racing through the men in yellow. A low Podolski cross on 65 minutes needed to be cleared, then the Bayern keeper got cocky with a clearance and Giroud nearly found Rosicky only for Martinez to sweep up.
Fabianski showed great bravery to deny Mandzukic after his defence had been undone by some typical tippy-tappy play by the hosts. On the left, Vermaelen was impressively resolute at left-back given he was the focus of most of Bayern’s attack.
Arsene Wenger threw caution to the wind with 14 minutes remaining withdrawing Mikel Arteta and chucking on Serge Gnabry. His side were starting to look leggy having chased the ball around for long periods but they kept pushing forward. Martinez and Vermaelen both got yellows. The Belgian’s for rather satisfyingly crunching Franck Ribery although he did require treatment himself in the aftermath. Chamberlain who’d run himself into the ground was replaced by Mathieu Flamini with seven minutes remaining.
Gnabry made space for a couple of shots as the clock ticked down, but as the noise from the home support rose Bayern continued to break. In injury-time Koscielny did well to force Robben away from goal as he caught the Gunners short in defence but when the Frenchman lightly brushed the Dutchman’s ankles he naturally went down. The referee had no qualms pointing to the spot. Amazingly Fabianski saved the penalty from Muller even winning a foul as the midfielder attempted to slot home the rebound.
The Gunners forced Bayern straight onto the back foot with seconds remaining still trying to find a winner, but despite their gallant efforts they couldn’t quite find a finish to match their tenacity.7,035 views