Arsene Wenger and Arsenal’s Champions League ambition was on Wednesday night shattered after German champions Bayern Munich hammered the Londoners 5-1.
The Gunners, who have been eliminated at this stage of the competition in each of the last six seasons, find themselves needing more than a miracle at the return leg in London to move to the next round.
The game began with Bayern, who knocked out the Gunners in 2005, 2013 and 2014, pegging Arsenal in their own half. The Bavarians moved the ball side to side as they controlled proceedings looking like another repeat of the 2014 scoreline waiting to happen.
The fears became reality when Arjen Robben’s superb curling effort was tucked in just below the bar on 11 minutes to give Bayern a much-deserved lead.
Arsenal somehow found possession and pushed up the field winning a corner kick which resulted in Robert Lewandowski kicking Laurent Koscielny in the box. Serbian referee Milorad Mazic pointed to the spot.
Alexis Sanchez took the resulting penalty which Manuel Neuer saved but failed to push out of danger allowing the Chilean to drill home the rebound.
Both sides went into the break level with Arsenal the happier of the two sides having gotten the much coveted away goal.
Bayern started the second half with the same intensity they did in the first half pressing Arsenal relentlessly.
Arsenal was soon dealt an injury blow with captain Koscielny limping off and Brazilian Gabriel replacing him. Bayern’s fortune looked to change soon after the substitution as they scored three goals in 10 minutes to shatter Arsenal’s hopes.
The first one came from a Robert Lewandowski header in the 53rd-minute before Thiago Alcantara scored twice to take the score from 1-1 to 4-1.
Mueller replaced the Polish striker in the 86th minute and added Bayern’s fifth two minutes later after Oxlade-Chamberlain failed to control or clear the ball at the edge of the box.
The cameras soon turned to Arsene Wenger who has faced intense criticism over the past few weeks about his ability to challenge for silverware, not just staying relevant.
Speaking after the game, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, said:
“It is difficult to explain. I felt we had two good chances to score just before half-time.”
“I felt we were unlucky for the second goal. The referee gave a corner for us at first. Then we concede the second goal and then the most important was that we lost Koscielny. We collapsed.”
“Overall I must say they are a better team than us, they played very well in the second half and we dropped our level. We were a bit unlucky we dropped our level and they were better than us.”
Arsene Wenger’s Future
Club legend Martin Keown, who won three league titles under Wenger, described Arsenal’s performance as “embarrassing”.
“It’s almost embarrassing – outclassed, outplayed.”
“This is his lowest point ever. Twenty years and Arsene Wenger must be considering his future now. Arsenal were bullied, weren’t they? Completely!”
“The difference between the two squads, they were men against boys, they were bigger and stronger.”
The intensified speculation into Arsene Wenger’s future continues although it is widely believed that he would be leaving at the end of the season.
Juventus’ Max Allegri, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone have been listed as favorites by the bookies to replace him.