Arsenal almost pull off a miracle at Munich
Arsenal managed to nearly do the impossible as they came close to scoring the required 3 goals that would have taken them through to the quarterfinals. But Bayern managed to hang on just enough, thus knocking out the gunners from the competition.
There were no real surprises in the starting 11 of both teams, apart from the already known fact that Fabianski started for Arsenal in place of Szczesny. Also, Kieran Gibbs made a return for the Gunners and took his place at Left Back. Rosicky started for Arsenal with Giroud playing up front while Cazorla and Walcott were in the wings. Bayern were without the services of Ribery and Schweinsteiger and so brought in Robben and Gustavo with the rest of the team similar to the first leg.
Whatever plan Wenger had in mind, it was sure to have an early goal in it. And that’s what the Gunners manager to pull off with Giroud scoring in from close range as early as the 3rd minute. The goal game from a good move, with Cazorla passing the ball to Ramsey, who found Rosicky. Rosicky saw Walcott’s run and passed the ball out wide and Theo fizzed the ball into the box, only for Giroud to blast the ball into the goal. It was game on as far as Arsenal were concerned.
However, if the plan was that the early goal would put pressure on Bayern and open the doors for Arsenal, it didn’t quite work out that way. The Gunners did attack quite a lot, but couldn’t find that crucial 2nd goal which would have put immense pressure on Bayern and would have forced them to be more open. Instead, a few wayward passes from Walcott and some bad luck ensured that the 2nd goal did not come any time soon. Instead, Bayern started dominating for a good period of time, much like in the first leg. However, the difference this time was that Arsenal were much more assured while defending, and any slip-ups were covered by good goalkeeping from Fabianski.
The second half pretty much started in the same fashion, with some good attacks from Arsenal, but again Walcott disappointed with his touches and runs not in tune with the other players. But he was unlucky during one passage of play in the 55th minute when he was through on goal, but was wrongly called off-side. But that did not deter Arsenal as they continued to work hard and press Bayern, trying to get the ball off them.
Fabianski proved that he could be an able goal keeper as he made a brilliant save from a Robben shot after he was through on goal. Wenger decided to go full out on the attack as he subbed off Walcott and Ramsey, bringing in Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsenal would be aggrieved with some of the calls the ref made with definite free kicks not given and corners disallowed and given goal kicks. Finally, Arsenal get the much desired 2nd goal from a corner kick in the 85th minute, through a Koscielny header to the near post. After that, there was a lot of scrapping, as Arsenal went in search of that all important 3rd goal, but there was simply not enough time for them to find one and they had to settle for a 2 goal victory, which saw them bow out of the Champions League on away goals.
However, Arsenal could be very proud of the performance as they almost did what was required of them, and if only the same commitment was shown in the first leg and had not let in that silly 3rd goal, they could have been planning for their quarterfinals instead of looking at another barren season. But this performance could well see them making a spirited fight in the Premier League, with a place in the Top 4 still up for grabs. Bayern would learn a lot of lessons from this game, which would help them plan for the rest of the tournament and would avoid being complacent against more effective opponents.
Miracle in Munich? Almost.