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Top four finish still alive for the Gunners

711   //    16 Mar 2013, 00:18 IST
On Wednesday, Arsenal were the last English team to be knocked out of the UEFA Champions League despite beating Bayern 2-0 at the Allianz Arena, but were unfortunately knocked out by the away goal rule.

Barely 5 minutes into the match, Arsenal were ahead through Olivier Giroud, after Theo Walcott stirred in a cross to the box, which Giroud calmly converted. From then on, it was end to end stuff from both sides, although Bayern enjoyed most of the possession and chances against a well drilled and organized Arsenal defense.

Arsenal can take heart from their Champions League performance.

Arsenal can take heart from their Champions League performance.

Bayern, without creative midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and with Mario Gomez left on the bench, had to rely on the brilliance of winger Arjen Robben. He had his moments in the game, but personally I believe if he had made some decent crosses into the box instead of selfishly going for glory every time, it surely would have been a different ball game.

Captain Thomas Vermaelen was dropped to the bench, an obvious message from Wenger to his skipper that being the captain doesn’t guarantee you a place in the squad. Koscielny was brought in to replace him. And without doubt, the partnership of Mertesacker and Koscielny in the heart of the defense in Munich has been Arsenal’s best defensive display all season.

Drilled, hungry and ready for battle – we witnessed a different Arsenal side. The forwards were tracking back to help with the defense along with the midfielders. On the night, the Arsenal team were brilliant and I still find it hard to fault where this team got it wrong. Maybe if the linesman didn’t rule Theo offside, Bayern would have had one of the most miserable Champions League nights ever.

They finally got a second courtesy of a header by Koscielny, but it was little too late to get a decisive result as Bayern maintained possession for the rest of the game to book a place in the quarter final.

The work rate of Welshman Aaron Ramsey didn’t go unnoticed. Carl Jenkinson and Gibbs put on beastly showings, and Rosicky was one of the best players of the night. His ability to track back and help with the defense along with his clear vision for the deadly pass, reminded me of one, Cesc Fabregas. He was Arsenal’s catalyst to a brilliant display.

This sort of performance is what the Arsenal fans pay to watch this team, and it is the duty of the manager to maintain this mouth-watering display in the English Premier League for Arsenal’s race for a top 4 finish.

Only time will tell with a crunch tie fixture against Swansea next on Saturday. A win should be a stepping stone for Arsenal. They can only continue to fight and hope other results go their way.

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