Arsenal – Bayern Afterthoughts and reflections by Marcus.
It’s been a mighty long time since I wrote a post here and I do agree it is unacceptable so I am going to break my silence. There are very many talking points that emanate from Wednesday night’s game, so I will tackle them one by one.
I must start by expressing my growing pride at being a Gooner. Wednesday night was a show of strength, togetherness, grit and unrelenting determination, even in defeat. Special praise must go the team as a whole. In the first 30-35 minutes before the red card, Bayern were shown that they were playing the Arsenal and not their usual German opponents whom they brush aside. This team has personalities such as Mertesacker, Koscielny, Flamini, Sagna and even the Ox, who are willing to lead the team in the face of adversity. Those 5 players must have passed out once they got home given the effort they put in. Add Szczesny and Ramsey to that list and we have title winning characters in our ranks. We pressed them and ran them ragged in the moments leading to the red card (which is my next talking point), something Bayern are not accustomed to. I strongly believe that had Szczeny just been booked, we’d have won that game.
Then there is the sending off. I feel it was extremely harsh. First of all, when the ball left kroos’ foot, it was a 50-50 ball between Robben and Szczesny. It was only Robben’s pace and awareness that gave him the advantage in that circumstance. Then there is the fact that if you watch the footage again, you see that the moment Szczesny realized Robben would get there first, he tried to back out of the challenged and that is why the contact made was minimal. If he had any malicious intent, he would have completely flattened Robben given the circumstance. This is by no means a criticism of the referee because the rules are clear. However, unless it is a two footed lunge with the studs showing, the fundamental rule when issuing a red card is intent, especially in one on one situations involving a keeper; and there was none. That is why Szczesny wasn’t sent off against Villa in the opening game and against spurs in the 2011-12 season. That is a rule that must be amended.
My third point to note has to be Yaya Sanogo. I must say that nobody expected him to start ahead of Giroud AND Poldi. I have watched him play in the last two games and he reminds me a bit of Adebayor. The way he moves and plays. I like what I see from him so far. The funny thing about his inclusion is, before the game my brother asked me to name the team I would pick and it was identical to the one that started; except, when he asked who I’d start upfront, I told him: ”anyone but Giroud”. I’d like to see how clinical he is, so I hope he gets more chances to play.
Then there’s is (obviously) Mesut Ozil. At the risk of sounding bitter he was utter rubbish last night. I mean penalties are generally 50-50 but for someone who has a world class reputation and has played for two of the best teams in the world – three if you count Germany – his penalty technique is wanting. But even aside from that, you miss a penalty in a game of that magnitude and go on to put in such a disinterested performance to the point where two of your team mates (Wilshere and Flamini) have to rebuke you? In a game of such importance? Unacceptable.
Maybe he needs to be dropped against Sunderland to show him that you have to earn the right to put on the red and white whether you cost 2 billion quid or came as a free transfer.
Then there’s something I have felt Wenger fails at since I started supporting Arsenal back in 2001 as an 11 year old, tactical substitutions. When Szczesny was sent off, he took of Cazorla: our most in form player at the moment, leaving Ozil on the pitch. Many say that Santi isn’t the best defensively, but you know what? Ozil is far worse. I have never once seen Ozil dispossess an opponent. Not once since he joined us. At least Santi puts in the effort when needed. Then he went on and took off the Ox still leaving Ozil on. Wenger has done this countless times most infamously in 2006 when he took off Pires which swung the tide against us.
To conclude, I have to say based on what I saw yesterday, this isn’t over yet. Not by a mile. I mean sure, beating Bayern by 2 goals is going to be a tough height to scale but did we not do it last year? I believe in this team so much that I don’t have that feeling of defeat most people have, because I know we can pull it off. It is going to take every piece of strength, determination and belief we have but we can do it. For now let’s look to bouncing back and securing 3 points against Sunderland.