Bayern again

As predictable as a Jose Mourinho swipe at Arsene Wenger to deflect criticism
a Piers Morgan call for Wenger to be sacked after a loss
a Robben dribble to his left
an Özil headed goal
an Alexis assist
a Xhaka long ball
a Coquelin perfectly timed tackle
an all action Aaron ramsey
a new contract for Arsene Wenger
a new banner from the Wenger out brigade
a mistake by Jenkinson
an injury to Özil or Alexis
a demand to be traded from Jack Wilshere this summer
a smiling Fabregas stabbing a manager in the back
a Charlie Adam tramp stamp
an Andy Carroll header
an Arsene Wenger 70th minute sub
a charge against Chelsea for failing to control their players
or a nuclear holocaust under a Trump administration

Arsenal have drawn Bayern
Another trip to the Bavarian capital
Another chance to gorge on sausages and perfect beers
to walk along the Isar and peer into its crystal clear waters
to play against Robben and Ribery and Lewandowski
to give up three goals in the first leg
to make a valiant comeback in the second leg
to bow out of the Champions League early again?



  1. Or we can beat them once for a change?

    With Cazorla in side we are a match for them. Our attack and defence are pretty settled. If we can have some balance in midfield even in Santi’s absence then it will be very close.

  2. Bayern Munich.

    I haven’t watched them play a single game this season, but I know they sit top of their domestic league and that their roster reads like a who’s who? of international superstars. Robben, Ribery, Lewandowski, Alaba, Muller, Vidal, Neuer… the list goes on. And I haven’t even mentioned their two best players in domestic (Alcantara) or Champions’ league (Bernat) competitions.

    This summer they added Mats Hummels to a side that is coming off of THREE STRAIGHT DOMESTIC DOUBLES. Of course they also won this competition in ’12/’13 with many of the same players they have now. The Euro Club Index places them as the 3rd best team in the world, currently on 4109 points, which is 597 better than Arsenal’s 3512. For context, the team which sits 597 points behind Arsenal would be somewhere between the likes of Lazio and Dynamo Kiev. That’s the gap in quality that we face. Consolation: at least we are the best team from England, sitting in 8th place.

    I take some solace in the fact that they’ve lost their only game thus far this season against the only high quality domestic opponent they’ve faced, BVB. It’s also notable that our CL group stage record is better than theirs in terms of wins, points and goal difference. Looking back on last season’s group stage fixtures, we beat them 2-0 at home with a fluid attacking lineup featuring a front 4 of Ozil, Ramsey, Sanchez and Walcott. In the return fixture, the squad was eviscerated by injury and instead of Ramsey and Walcott (who was really good in the first tie) we turned to Giroud and Joel Campbell. Bellerin and Koscielny were also out of that one and we lost that one 5-1.

    We can beat them. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of discipline, quite a bit of good fortune and no end of coolness under pressure. I do think this Arsenal side are better equipped than ever for this challenge but they are still unlikely to prevail.

    1. A few things to consider here.

      We beat Bayern with Pep as manager. Reading Pep’s book I know that Pep would have seen that loss as his team playing well and doing exactly what he had instructed them to do. Pep is a bit of an odd duck. He is similar to Wenger in almost all ways but one crucial way: he’s an exuberant tinkerer. I think he saw that first match as a time to tinker with things. He attacked a lot down the wings and if you remember he singled out Monreal as the weak link. That was a flawed game plan.

      What wasn’t a flawed plan was Costa on Bellerin. Bellerin was burned 5 times by Costa, Coquelin 4. Costa attempted 11 crosses. Again, this was all part of his plan but it failed as Costa went 1/11 on crosses.

      In the return leg, they were direct. All of Costa’s dribbles were in the middle of the pitch. Alcantara became their creator and their best defender. Also, the inclusion of Thomas Muller provided them with a much needed space eater. He’s like Özil in the way that he eats space.

      So, they destroyed us. 5-1.

      I’m not saying that we can’t beat them. I think we can. But Ancelotti is a very conservative coach. He’s going to play basic football against Arsenal and use the superior all around talent to try to get the win. Simple tactics I expect.

      Another thing to remember about all of our matches against Bayern: we have been utterly dominated in terms of possession, shots, shots on goal, and all the other metrics I consider to be indicators of good quality. So, I’m looking forward to see what we do this year compared to all of the previous encounters.

  3. I will always feel in my heart that my Arsenal can beat anyone, but with Bayern, my head tells me that that’s in a single game rather than over 2-legs.

    Although you’ve got to feel that players like Robben and Ribery are ageing, they are the complete team… a high class, classic centre-forward, goals from midfield (even the supposedly defensive component), superb wing backs, a dominating and technically accomplished goalkeeper (who nonetheless does make the odd mistake). I saved the best for last… their central defence. To see Mats Hummels play football is to see the perfect Arsena Wenger player… a centre back who looks otoally at home in attacking midfield, while being REALLY good at his day job. His partner Boateng is big, swift and mobile, and effectively ended Mertesacker’s participation in German football.

    Their USP, though, is their lung-bursting athleticism, from first minute to last.

    We have what they don’t have though. We have Alexis and Ozil, on current form, two of the cleverest players in the game.

    But hey, this is professional sport. Maybe it’s our time. The Cubs had looked dead and buried, after all.

  4. I can already see the games unfold.
    In Munich, we defend very good even though we are missing a starting CB. But finally they break the deadlock in the second half through Lewandowski. The game ends 1:0.
    We go to the Emirates, expectations high. After all, 1:0 is not a bad result to overcome playing the second game at home.
    And then someone like Muller scores.
    We quickly equalize through Walcott and we go into the second half needing two goals.
    We take the lead in the 50th minute when Ramsey scores and everyone is expecting a frantic ending but the game ends like this.
    We go out. Valiantly.
    We also lose the FA Cup final against United and finish second in the League.
    Sanchez leaves for PSG.
    We buy Reus.
    Reus gets injured in November ans is ruled out until March.
    Ok, I’m gonna stop here.t
    But to quote Bruce Dickinson, feels like I’ve been here before.

    1. Hey…

      If your message doesn’t go through the first time please don’t send a bunch of repeats. The spam filter thinks you’re a spam bot if you do that.

      1. No problem, I thought I waa having a problem with the Internet because my comment couldn’t go through so I just clicked the Submit button two or three times.
        Sorry about that.

    2. I don’t think Reus is ever going to leave Dortmund. I also agree that he’s a constant injury worry.

      Also, if Sanchez leaves, Özil leaves.

  5. Let’s remember that these are not the same teams that have met each other 4 times in the last 5 years.

    We are undefeated in the CL while they are not. We have each lost only once in domestic league competition.

    And for once we have a 2nd leg at home. If we can get out of the 1st game at Allianz arena with a point or just a goal down…?

    Staying healthy will be key obviously.

    Let’s see how we roll over the holiday fixtures.

  6. Besides the supposed advantage of playing teams who couldn’t win their groups, the other “advantage” of winning your group is playing the second leg of the tie at home. I’ve never thought this to be much of an advantage, honestly. If the tie goes to extra time, the way team in the second leg has 120 minutes to get an away goal while the home team only had 90 to do the same in the first leg. My nightmare scenario is to go to extra time, score first and then have Bayern win the tie with a last second leveler. And if we somehow beat, Bayern, how much do you want to bet we draw Barca?

  7. We won’t be considered an elite team by elite talent until we start beating teams like Bayern, Real Madrid and Barcelona. I say bring them on.

    We’re not their equal in talent but playing counter attacking football gives us a puncher’s chance. The Alexis/Ozil and Walcott/Bellerin combos have to worry them. Ideally we get Santi back and can reincarnate Coqzorla. But I’d really like for Wenger to tell Rambo that Coq has his spot and if he wants to be a starter he has to press and play defense like Coq does.

    I think our biggest weaknesses are on defense: Mustafi’s losing focus and occasional poor decision making along with Monreal being vulnerable to be attacked with pace.

    I don’t watch Bayern, but I wonder if they’d be vulnerable to pressing Neuer the way Bravo was.

  8. Since our last meet
    We’ve gotten a little bit stronger
    They, a little bit weaker.

    Nicely poised on a knife edge, over two grounds.

  9. i’ve watched bayern play about a half-dozen times this season. this is not pep’s fc bayern. this team is very experienced but is also old and slow; they certainly aren’t as fit as they’ve been in recent seasons. arsenal have every chance at winning this leg and i think they can.

    for me, one of the biggest questions are how far along will xhaka have come by the time we play bayern. i’m totally not expecting santi to be back for that game and he’s the only one who i believe can play that position other than santi. the second one is who will play on the left. chamberlain has only been okay while iwobi, despite scoring in his last two appearances, has been awful. on form, i’d prefer chamberlain easily. will lucas prove a commodity? will welbeck be back? we’ll have to let time tell both of those tales.

    btw, fc bayern are only just ahead of leipzig in the 1st bundesliga on goal difference. if you guys haven’t seen leipzig play, i would urge you to check them out. that is a fantastic young team filled with talented young technicians. like i said, fantastic team filled with a few future german internationals. there was a bad rumor going around last week linking their manager to replace wenger once he steps down. he would not be a bad option.

    1. Iwobi has not been awful. He had a blip but against Southampton, Basel, and Stoke he’s performed at various levels between fine and excellent.

  10. I feel Iwobi has regained his confidence and 2 months is plenty for a lad. We watch. Who knows, by that time he might have become unplayable.

    1. He’ll get stronger. He’ll get faster. If he comes through this period of his development without suffering the injuries that held back Ox, Ramsey and Theo it’s not hard to imagine being unplayable on a regular basis.

    2. He’ll get stronger. He’ll get faster. If he comes through this period of his development without suffering the injuries that held back Ox, Ramsey and Theo then it’s not hard to imagine him being unplayable on a regular basis.

  11. Put out a front three of the new (defensively aware) Walcott, Alexis and (a hopefully match fit) Welbeck with Ozil behind and a double pivot of Xhaka and Coquelin, and you’ll get a six strong enough to support the back five and fast enough in transition to hurt Bayern in the first leg in Munich without over-committing our fullbacks on the overlap. I’m upbeat about our chances against Bayern. The key would be trying to get a crucial result away from home (at least a score draw) and so obviate the need for throwing caution to the wind in the return leg at the Emirates in a bid to chase the result. I still have bad memories of a 3-1 home loss to Man U in our last UCL semi finals (2008?). Almunia’s heroics at Old Trafford restricted Man U to a mere 1-0 win. Ahead of the return leg, Wenger was in unusually defiant and ebullient mood and urged the fans to bring the roof down with impassioned support. They duly obliged. The first ten minutes were electric as Arsenal poured forward with manic energy and desire. A Kieran Gibbs slip in the eighteen yard box shortly after and we were down by a crucial away goal. While I readily admit that that team was significantly inferior in experience and professionalism to the current squad, we must not make the mistake of banking so much on an Emirates Fortress in the second leg that we fail to first concentrate on getting a positive result at the Allianz Arena with a fine blend of compactness which out of possession and real daring from the front four when Bayern lose possession.

  12. My heart sank when I saw the fixture but now I’m getting fired up for it. I think the various comments above pointing out that we have improved and got faster while they have aged and slowed are spot on. I think if we go at them full throttle and retain the form and confidence we are currently in, they might find it very hard to live with us.

    I always want us to win, but this one I really want us to win. 70% because we’re Arsenal, 10% for revenge, 10% for the players’ confidence and the validation of this team Wenger is building; and 10% for of the joy and deep sense of justice that comes with beating any team that has Arjen Robben in it.

  13. Off topic but interesting…

    Only the little people pay taxes, football edition

    tl:dr Recently leaked documents reveal top players like Ronaldo, Messi and Ozil along with sea slugs like Mourinho and Jorge Mendes have conspired to avoid income taxes by selling their image rights to shell companies and funneling the proceeds through tax havens in the British Virgin Islands.

    1. But compared to Trump this is a drop in the bucket. And while Mourinho is also annoying as heck, he has little power to affect my daily life.

    2. That article led me to this one centering on our own no.11

      So when people say contract negotiations are ongoing, maybe part of the reason for the length of time it takes is having to untangle old agreements or find creative new ways of hiding income streams for star players. Anyway, it’s Incredible what kind of reporting stems from “leaked” data.

  14. Strangely passive and inhibited performance so far by Arsenal at Goodison after a lively start. Poor positioning by both Koscielny and Gabriel for the equaliser. We don’t seem to keep clean sheets at the moment. We must buck that trend soon.

  15. And so the 14 game league unbeaten run ends! Very limp display allowed Everton to seize the momentum. Wenger should’ve made the subs earlier. Walcott and the Ox were not in the game at all. Perez should’ve come in earlier. I hope he starts on sunday.

  16. An insipid performance all round. Everton didn’t so much play well either……..let’s hope it was just a (very) bad day at the office.

  17. I would have taken two points from these two games. Now, I’ll gladly take one but it will most probably come down to none.

  18. Conclusions from tonight:

    1. The damage was done in the half hour after we scored, when we barely strung 3 passes together and allowed them to get back into the game. They were aggressive and Clattenberg was probably a bit permissive in allowing them to foul there way back into contention (but what else is new), but it was our fault for losing out on so many challenges, and allowing our passing and movement to be so poor. They pushed up the pitch and we were routinely guilty of trying to force the ball forward, which meant our team got really stretched. With Ozil playing almost as a false 9 (too many runs in behind tonight, I think) and Theo never going to provide much in the buildup, we really need our other wide attacker to be smart on the ball and help transition us up the field. But the Ox unfortunately had “one of those nights”. Actually, Theo was equally poor but we know he can’t keep hold of the ball in tight circumstances very well.

    2. Agree that Theo and the Ox should have been subbed earlier, or maybe only one should have, as it was obvious by the 60th minute mark that things weren’t working, but Wenger waits until the 70th minute, when, given that it usually takes the team about 10 minutes to adjust after making subs (especially if one of them is Giroud, as he changes how we have to play), we were only ever going to have the last 10, frantic minutes to take advantage of those subs. Where have we seen this before????????? Someone should tell Arsene that you’re allowed to make subs before the 70th minute.

    3. Gabriel is considerably worse than Mustafi, especially on the ball. We could REALLY struggle defensively in the next few weeks. When he was out wide at fullback, his messups were less costly, but in the middle he has a really disruptive presence, always looking panicky on the ball, and at times seeming to struggle to communicate with his teammates. We lost several balls late in the game because multiple players went for the ball (or failed to go for the ball) at once, and he was in the middle each time. Bellerin being rusty didn’t exactly help our buildup from the back, down the right, either.

    4. Coquelin needs to work on his passing and possession. As good as he’s been lately, this was one of those days where I felt having another ball-playing midfielder besides Xhaka (Elneny? Ramsey if he’d get his head on straight?) would have helped us break their first line of press.

    5. The narrow pitch hurt us too, making it much easier for them to close us down. But as individuals we were repeatedly not good enough on the ball to compensate for this. A sign of fatigue? (Another reason Perez and Iwobi (who was disappointing when he came on, continuing the form of the players who went off) should have started?)

    6. In spite of the narrow pitch, we managed to constantly make our players look isolated when they had the ball, routinely surrounded by 2-3 opponents. Again, fatigue is a factor, but Everton looked like they wanted it more, which is a lazy thing to say–of course we were desperate to win tonight–but underlines how important it was to keep the pressure up after we scored and their confidence was still low (and their crowd was quiet).

    7. Foul by McCarthy on Koscielny before their first goal? McCarthy and Coleman really are nasty pieces of work, who always get away with a ton of crude play against us. Also, are we sure Koscielny actually touched the ball that went for a corner for their winning goal? And are we sure his tackle on McCarthy just before that was a foul? And are we sure he wasn’t fouled by Lukaku in the buildup to that incident? Overall, a complete clusterf*ck. But no less than we deserved, really, after such a brainless and spineless performance.

    8. If we lose to City and Chelsea win their two very winnable games, we’ll be 9 (NINE!) points behind them. Sigh. The title challenge was nice while it lasted…

    1. Jaysus, don’t be such a drama queen. To #8, that’s pointless projection. Titles don’t get decided in December. We’re 3 points behind the leaders having played a game more. Everton are better than their results suggest, and Koeman seems to relish besting Wenger tactically.

      Everton played very well. Hats off to them.

      Agree with you on Wenger and subs, though. I’ve never seen him take anyone off at half time. Like it’s against the law or something.

      Coquelin is limited. A ball winner and destroyer with few equals in the league, but it’s become increasingly clear that he’s the only player of his type in the squad — and Elneny, Ramsey, Xhaka and Cazorla are all contenders for a single berth . We thought we we were upgrading on Coquelin in the summer (Or buying an alternate in Elneny in January). I like Xhaka, and want to see him playing every week, but clearly we weren’t.

      Relax. Everton were worth the win.

      1. Everton turned the game into a physical, scrappy battle. It was classic handbrake game in which we had neither the patience or composure to play around their frantic, disorganized press nor the physicality to match them. The team, to borrow Wenger’s phrase, looked jaded. Still, Özil had a really good chance to put up and he didn’t. If we’re going to win shiny, silvery things, we’ll have games in which we need our big players to win games out of nothing for us.

      2. Stooping to name-calling now, are we? Classy.

        1. Everton weren’t better than their results suggest tonight until we started dicking around, thinking the game was won a half an hour into the match. We gave them hope, they responded, they got a goal, the crowd got excited, THEN they were better than their results suggest.

        2. Of course point 8 is a hypothetical, and it’s the laziest and most predictable response to such a statement to say “relax, that’s all hypothetical.” The point is that the hypothetical could be (perhaps is even likely to be) a reality in less than a week. If we were playing some crap team this weekend it would still be true that if we lost that game and Chelsea won their two we’d be 9 points back, but it would be much less likely to happen. City are good and we are precisely the sort of team they’re unlikely to struggle against: a team that gives them space. Of course there’s a ton of time to claw back a 9 point gap, but we’ll be firmly in the underdog role, yet again. The difference between winning and losing a title can absolutely come down to weeks like this.

  19. What doesn’t add up for me is having to use the same 11 players for 2 matches in 3 days when we are supposed to be very rich in depth. Is Wenger too scared of loosing? Well, the irony is that you loose when you are too scared of loosing. The players looked jaded particularly Walcott and Oxlade.

    Iwobi is so much better from the left or to put it more bluntly he is poor from the right. Imo, Iwobi should have subbed the Ox, and Walcott subbed by Perez while Sanchez continued at #9.

    Otherwise if Giroud was to come in, sub Ox with Gibbs for crosses into the box. Sanchez drops to #10 and Ozil goes wide left from where we know he is still able to creat chances.

    Sanchez has created by far, many more chances than any one else in the epl this season. Is he not a more effective #10 than Ozil?. Yeah, I can sometimes think the unthinkable, say that the world is not flat but round!

  20. While looking ahead at the month’s fixtures, it was this one that I dreaded the most. Everton away is not easy and I had us down for a draw for this one. We didn’t play well, but this game could have gone either way. Everton probably deserved their win, though the ‘aggression’ as the commentators and Koeman talked about might have been a bit out of hand.

    Iwobi coming on instead of Lucas was a big show of confidence in the youngster. He didn’t justify that with some poor passing and choices. Might have scored right at the end though. But the ‘worst’ miss was Ozil’s early in the second half. If that chance goes in, I think we go on to win the game. Oh well. It happens.

    Unhappy about the two goals we conceded. To be fair Everton could have scored from any other number of half chances and crosses. But still, the manner of the goals is frustrating. Also, is the Liverpool game, and this game the only times we’ve conceded just before the first half ends? Both times it seemed to do more damage to our confidence than it should.

  21. I have always felt that playing Walcott and Oxlade together is flawed. Our playing pattern is defined best by our passing game. Walcott and Ox are beel line players, and their sum alter too drastically the balance of our passing game. To me it’s simple, they should compete for the same position.

    1. Not sure about that. I think the Ox has the close control and the vision to be a creative force, while also contributing an added goal threat. Trouble is that he’s still inconsistent. I didn’t think he was terrible yesterday. In fact, I wouldn’t have subbed him off as it seemed to me that he just might create a moment of magic.

      1. You’re both right, in that mature, confident Ox offers something very different than Walcott, much more on the ball and in our buildup, but we don’t always get that version of Ox. Bad Ox has many of the failings of Walcott, coughs up the ball a lot, but without the goal threat. So if we play both of them, and Ozil has one of those games where he’s basically playing as a striker and running in behind too much, we are likely to lose control in midfield. I thought we could have brought either Iwobi or even Elneny on, and switched to more of a 4-3-3, earlier in the second half. Although we had a fair bit of possession, they dominated the midfield in that they turned the game into the sort they wanted to play: ugly, scrappy, with the ball in the air a lot.

  22. At some point you have to give somebody like Perez a crack of the whip. His understanding with the rest of the team is not yet telepathic but he can’t develop that without game time. What he takes away from our game in terms of fluidity, he compensates for with clever movement and good finishing. His goal and assist numbers for us are quite good. At the least, he can contribute as much as Walcott and the Ox. After all, the contributions of the latter two players this season have similarly been in the form of numbers or”end product” if you wish. If you want good combination play and offensive fluidity you play Iwobi (from the left preferably as @ Pony Eye adroitly remarked).

  23. Shard, I agree that Ox is very talented, but he seems unable to choose simple options in his play which creates the contradiction that everybody senses about his performance. A performance that does not rhyme with his undoubted talent.

    In my thinking, I believe that by exposing him to a more central role, he would be able to expand his game to attain the height his potential promises. That might mean being loaned out.

    1. Özil doesn’t defend, he’s by far our worst defender. Playing him up top with Sanchez somewhat mitigates that although our pressing from the front does suffer a bit. Out wide, the fullback will receive no help whatsoever. Only way to play him out there is if you play three athletic, disciplined central midfielders and take the opposite winger with being much more defensively minded.

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