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Why Wenger must take the blame for Arsenal's loss at the hands of Pep's Bayern
Arsene Wenger must be sick of the sight of Guardiola by now. The former Barcelona coach is becoming a formidable foe for the Frenchman while deploying Wenger's favoured "Tiki-Taka" style of play.
Now managing German and European champions Bayern Munich the Spainard is continuing has winning legacy and Tuesday night was no different. The Bavarians visited The Emirates in what was considered one of the most anticipated and important nights in this years Champions League. With Arsenal's league and FA Cup hopes still alive the Gunners would be hoping they could halt Gaurdiola's almost flawless Munich and put one step towards the quarter finals.
But it was not to be as the five time winners ran out 2-0 victors in a match which had seen its fair amount of controversy. Arsenal's German International Mesut Ozil was fouled in the box by Bayern defender and fellow international team mate Jerome Boateng leading to an early penalty. What was initially a dream start was soon to turn into a nightmare for the North Londoners.
Ozil, for what many fans have questioned as the right decision or not, was then chosen to take the resulting spot kick. He was denied a goal by Opposition keeper Manuel Neuer. Had Wenger done his research he may have discovered the former Real Madrid playmaker was a school friend of Neuers and that the German shot stopper had a history of saving his penalties. This proved to be the first of Arsenal's downfalls during the night as next up was a red card for Wojciech Szczesny after bringing down Arjen Robben in an unsuccessful 1-1 challenge. Although David Alaba could do no better than Ozil with an off the post shot, a stunning second half Toni Kroos strike followed by a late Thomas Muller header provided joy for Pep and misery for Arsene.
But was this loss just down to a combination of pure bad luck and brilliance by Bayern? consider the facts prior to the game and during. Olivier Giroud, Arsenal's most prolific and in-form striker had been left red-faced in the media over the weekend for an affair. This led to an apology on the players personal twitter account and some friendly banter from team mate Per Mertesacker. Arsene then decided to drop his countrymen in favour of inexperienced young striker Yaya Sanogo (who ironically had been involved in an alleged training ground bust-up with the tall German International). Wenger's reason for this was that he felt Giroud needed a rest.
Take the whole situation into account. Arsenal's only real goal-getter this season gets dropped just before arguably the teams biggest match of the season. Is he really tired or is just a lie to hide the truth? For personal reasons it could be understandable that Giroud may not have complete focus for the game and its magnitude. In that case, why not replace him with Lukas Podolski? Yes he has had his injuries this season but he scored in Arsenals recent cup win over Liverpool and once played for Bayern, as well as being a fully fledged German International. Despite the listed reasons, Wenger opted for a young and what resulted in out of depth Sanogo. It was clear after a short while that the Frenchman was not going to be able to compete against the German giants. Each time he gained possession he either conceded it immediately or seemed out of ideas. As well as this his team mates obviously did not feel comfortable giving him the ball which resulted in play stagnating with sideways or backwards passes and ultimately led to Munich regaining play. This also highlights the fact that Arsene didn't buy another striker of standard during the recent transfer window. Yes, just who he would buy with his resources available is a justifiable argument, but surely purchasing noone at all was a much bigger shot in the foot.
Not only did this particular team selection seem baffling but so did the Gunners approach to the game. Wenger prides his teams on attacking, flowing and skillful football, yet Arsenal seemed to "shut up shop" or "park the bus" even when a goal down. Is this really the Arsenal that the frenchman prides himself of managing? Yes, with a team of Bayerns stature you should be cautious and defending has to be almost perfect, but will Arsene look back and say it was a mistake not to attack more, especially at home? Most will argue that the sending off didnt help Arsenals cause but they were playing with that defensive set-up from the start.
Wenger has been given the nickname "Le professeur" due to his knowledge and prowess for and towards the game. But this, as many may agree, was not the Arsenal we have grown to admire. It seemed like a desperate attempt to contain Gaurdiola's teams advances and hope to grab a goal from a counter-attack.
Having stated all of the above, the facts do show that Arsenal managed a 2-0 victory at the Allianz last season in the second leg with all the odds against them with a much criticized Lukasz Fabianski, so who knows. What is up for debate is whether or not Tuesday's result was more down to Wenger's mishaps rather than Bayern's Brilliance.
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