Good morning again and a rather more sombre mood this morning following last night’s heavy defeat.
Predictable waves across social and mainstream media, primarily of anguish from Arsenal fans, who watched our dismantling by a clearly better side last night. There may be mitigating circumstances in terms of players missing through injuries. However even with our first 11 out we would have required an almost perfect performance to get out of Southern Germany with much more than we did, in my opinion.
On the other side the negative critical wave. There are the smug “I told you so’s”, from the usual pundits, scattering a shotgun of abuse across the full range of targets, from Arsene Wenger decade of CL ‘failures’, to the current deficit between Bayern and any team in the PL, down to the individually and personally guilty on the evening, Debuchy and Campbell being, from what I can see and read, likely to be full of lead shot this morning.
For my part, and as I think I explained at length last night, I thought we got ‘done’ by a better football team on the night. Unlike at the Emirates the half chances the Germans made last night they converted early and efficiently. In exactly the same was as at the Ems Bayern were utterly relentless in chasing the ball when it was lost and harassing our players to retrieve it. And that relentless energy was obvious all over the pitch. Unlike a fortnight ago Manuel Neuer had no brainstorm that gifted us a goal. By the time the second had spun in off Per’s shins the result had probably moved beyond us.
What was required if the result was gone was that we pulled ourselves together and worked hard.
After half time I think we did achieve that modest consolation. It may be that Munich took their foot ‘off the gas’ after the hour mark and with a comfortable lead, or it may be that as a fortnight even their relentless energy had run out. The Giroud goal was rather well taken I thought, Santi’s effort was denied by an excellent Neuer save, we had success in finally holding the ball and playing football. Scant comfort as the scoreboard clicked up to 5 with moments to go I know but playing football is what we do.
Players who deserve a mention last night ? Cech was superb, as was Coquelin, as was Nacho. Giroud worked his arse off all night, tightly policed and fed the smallest of scraps. In the red shirted storm Mesut managed to control the ball, pass and inspire a little composure among those working round him.
I saw mention earlier of the influence of Mr Rocchi on proceedings and I expect like you I found some of his decisions in the first half irritating. Our players bundled over on a couple of occasions and played waved on, but the whistle blown when a Bayern player was similarly upended. Looking back at the first game the Italian’s first half performance was similar to that of the Turkish referee at the Ems. A I said then Bayern are ‘SLY’. Given the strength of Bayern’s performance though I would be hard pushed to ascribe much influence on the result to the man in black.
So two ties against Bayern – won one, lost one, which combination if you had offered me when the draw was made, or even before kick off a fortnight ago I would probably have taken. Plenty still to play for in a group for us where, despite the result last night, Bayern are still not qualified.
On to Sunday and a home game against the neighbours. The perfect pick-me-up following a hard football lesson.