UEFA Champions League 2016/17: Arsenal 1-5 Bayern Munich (agg. 2-10) ,5 talking points
Arsenal once again exited at the last-16 stage of the Champions League - read our five talking points to find out why.
It finished 1-5 on the night between Arsenal and Bayern Munich, a first-half Theo Walcott strike was cancelled out by a 55th-minute Robert Lewandowski penalty before Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal sealed an away win with their 68th, 78th, 80th and 85th-minute strikes at the Emirates Stadium.
It was always going to be difficult for the Gunners to progress to the quarter-final stage of the UEFA Champions League, and it proved that way as the visitors emerged victorious 10-2 on aggregate, prompting plenty to add fuel to the speculatory fire that Arsene Wenger might well have taken charge of his final European game with the side from north London.
It was a night which saw both sets of fans involved in protests – that travelling contingent taking umbrage with ticket prices, while Arsenal supporters voiced their disapproval of their French boss still being in charge.
In the end, though, those complaints took a backseat as an intriguing encounter unfolded on the biggest club stage around. So, let’s take a look at the five biggest talking points.
#1 Arsenal showed fighting spirit...in vain
There can be little doubt that Arsenal would have pushed Bayern a lot closer had they started the first leg with as much spirit and passion as they did the second.
The players buzzed about the turf with energy and enthusiasm, particularly in the opening 45 minutes and worked much harder than Carlo Ancelotti’s players did. They were by far the better team as they got to loose balls, weren’t afraid to get stuck in to tackles and ran at the Bayern defence as often as they could.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was particularly impressive with his tenacity and will to work in the middle of the park and made it difficult for Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso to exert their usual dominance on proceedings, breaking up the play with well-timed interceptions and generally getting in their faces. It had a knock-on effect, too, as Alexis Sanchez, Walcott and Araon Ramsey all got involved.
Ultimately, the effort proved to be in vain as they lost all of that refreshing momentum following the restart, especially after Laurent Koscielny was dismissed from the field of play for a rash challenge on Lewandowski. Despite the improved performance early on, it was the same old Arsenal who revealed themselves when the going got tough, and it will be impossible for Wenger or the fans to put a positive spin on this, exiting at the last-16 hurdle once again.