Arsenal 2-2 Bayern Munich: Carelessness and character

Arsenal 2-2 Bayern Munich: Carelessness and character


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Good morning from a London hotel room where I’m going to try and piece together the 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich last night. I haven’t had a chance to watch it all back, although I do have the game downloaded, so I’ll try and do it via the key incidents.

Pre-game + early stages

I’m not someone who goes every week, but I’ve been to plenty of games at the Emirates, and I’ve never heard noise like that before. It was so loud, and so impressive. The crowd were well and truly up for this one.

The Bukayo Saka goal, curled in after a Ben White pass, sparked huge celebrations, obviously. It was a lovely finish, Kai Havertz did well to get a foot in before the White pass, and that was just the start you would have wanted. It should have settled us, and it probably should have been even better when White had a chance to make it 2-0 but shot straight at the keeper.

When you look at what happened next, that was a big sliding doors moment in this game. I’m not saying he has to score there, he is a defender in a position where you’d normally expect to see a forward, but just a bit more composure and bit more precision in the finish, and I think this would have been a very different night.

Serge Gnabry equaliser

This was careless. I know we ask our goalkeeper to play high up the pitch, but I think Raya is too high, and it causes confusion. Gabriel’s first touch isn’t brilliant, and his pass to Jakub Kiwior catches the Polish internationals on his heels a bit. Declan Rice makes a step towards the ball which allows Goretzka to run beyond him, and the ball to Gnabry sees the former Arsenal man slot home between the keeper’s legs.

This was a gift, a reminder that despite pre-game talk of how Bayern aren’t what they were, they’re still replete with quality players who can hurt you if you make a mistake. It also completely killed the atmosphere, like a balloon going pop, all the energy seemed to go out of the stadium.

1-2, penalty

Bayern played a hopeful ball up the line, and Sane gets away from Kiwior too easily. You just can’t get turned like that, he had to be stronger and, if necessary, take a yellow card. That’s his job, and while I don’t want to go in too hard on him, I found his selection a bit of a strange one to be honest. It also convinces me even further that despite having plenty of options, Arsenal need a left-back. Not someone who can just play there, but a left-side equivalent of Ben White. Maybe that’s Jurrien Timber, but for me it’s a position which needs to be addressed properly in the summer.

From there, Sane drove into our box, Jorginho lunged in and didn’t get the ball, Gabriel pulled out of a challenge, before Saliba, who seemed almost caught off guard by the fact the Bayern man had come that far, bumped him over and the ref pointed to the spot. It’s 100% a penalty, and Harry Kane did exactly what you expected him to do, making it 2-1.

Sane was dangerous again a few minutes later, tearing towards our box after a lack of precision high up the pitch allowed them to break through on goal. Only for some brilliant defending from Ben White, that would have been 3-1.

Second half

Oleksandr Zinchenko came on for Kiwior at the break, the change itself wasn’t a surprise, but I had thought it might be Tomiyasu. He didn’t exactly calm the nerves, defensively he always looked susceptible to the ball in behind, and while I know his strength is on the ball more than defending, his decision making at times was frustrating.

Bayern think they should have had a penalty when Raya took a goal kick in the 66th minute, and Gabriel picked the ball up and took it again. I mean, they could be right, but it’s still a bit confusing. Arsenal had just brought on Jesus and Trossard for Martinelli and Jorginho, the ref blew his whistle, but there’s another whistle after Gabriel picked it up to take it again.

I suppose it could be a penalty but I can’t take Bayern’s complaints too seriously, because they should have been down to ten men at that point. Ten minutes earlier, Kane has a look at Gabriel, swings an elbow which catches him in the throat, and only gets a yellow card. For me that’s a red all day long. If it was accidental, yellow would be fine, but it wasn’t so it should have been a sending off. You can see him check where Gabriel is, knowing full well what he’s going to do next.

2-2, Trossard

I thought Jesus did well when he came on, and added a bit of drive to our attack which just felt a bit too static at times. It was lovely work from the Brazilian to find a bit of space in their box, and to provide the pass for Trossard, and the finish from the Belgian was excellent to equalise and bring the stadium back to life. That’s 13 goals in all competitions for him now, and this could prove to be a very important goal in the context of this tie.

The final stages

Bayern hit the post, a lucky escape, and then there’s the Saka penalty incident. Thomas Partey plays the ball through, Manuel Neuer comes out, there’s a collision as Saka leaves a leg out, and down he goes. For me, that’s much more a penalty than not, but I can also sort of see why it’s not given. You see them given for much, much less than that all the time, but there’s not much point dwelling on it now, even if I think if Kane had done what Saka had done the ref would have had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.


On the basis of our performance, which was well below our best, a draw was probably a fair result. When you gift the opposition two goals, as we did, you have to dig in and make sure you get something from the game, and I don’t think 2-2 on the night was unfair. The carelessness in our passing was evident pretty much all night long, even in the final 10 minutes we coughed it back up to Bayern with a frequency you rarely see from this iteration of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal.

It was frustrating and disappointing, but we did show enough character to get back in it. As the other quarter-final demonstrated, lots happens at this level of a high quality knock-out competition, so to go into next week’s second leg level isn’t bad. I think it was really important that we got something from our home tie, so credit to the subs for helping to find a way through in the second half.

Mikel Arteta said:

We have given them two goals today and when you have this situation they are going to punish you. The margins are really small in this competition, it’s really difficult to penetrate the opponents and create big quality chances against this level of opposition, make sure you don’t give them anything but i think the team showed a lot of composure especially after 2-1 because you can throw your toys away and generate a lot of spaces for the opponent and lose the tie in 20 minutes.

We haven’t done that and I think the subs made a huge impact and the way they came on the pitch, the body language, the attitude, the initiative to make things happen made a big difference to the team.

I think we can play much better than that. Maybe Bayern can too, but if we cut out the stupid stuff next week, we certainly have a decent chance of winning the game. The first leg against Porto was tough going, but we learned a lot from it. We’ve got to do the same again with this one.

If there’s something I’ve forgotten, I’ll try and catch up ahead of this evening when James and I will have an Arsecast Extra for you. I’ve gotta get back to Dublin from London, he’s heading back to London from Philadelphia, so we’ll catch up later on and pick the bones out of this game in podcast format.

For now, have a good one.


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