Ozil Blunders, Sanogo Starts, Szczesny Sees Red and Arsenal Fall to Defeat.

The REDactionAFC card display – Image taken by @KieranCPhotoAFC.

Morning, folks.

Last night was a game of “what if?”.

What if Mesut Ozil scored the penalty? What even the referee had used a little lenience and shown Szczesny yellow instead of red? What if we’d been able to compete with Bayern Munich with an equal amount of players? What if Arjen Robben wasn’t such a monumental disgrace of a footballer?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to excuse our loss and claim that any of the above would have made a difference. I’d have simply preferred to see the manner in which the game played out if the aforementioned didn’t occur. Bayern were very worthy winners over 90 minutes. They have a team of exceptional players and looked very impressive in possession of the ball. You couldn’t help but be impressed – aside from Robben that is, who writhed around and irritated as he always does, and even appeared to spit on Bacary Sagna at one point.

For the first 30 minutes, we played very well. We had our chances to open the scoring and the atmosphere was buzzing  - even in a pub in Bristol the sense of excitement and hope was palpable. However, as soon as Ozil blundered his spot-kick and Szczesny saw red, the odds stacked up against us and that hope was replaced by a sense of and dread and tension.

I’m not sure why Ozil took the penalty. I’m not going to defend him for what was an utterly woeful attempt to find the net – arguably worse than the shot he missed against Napoli. As he casually sauntered up to strike the ball, I didn’t have any confidence in him scoring. Mesut has taken a lot of flack since then, mostly frustrated abuse directed his way from Twitter users. He didn’t perform well, but you have to take into account he isn’t the type of player to perform admirably when asked to cover a full-back. It’s not his game, and it never has been. Plus, it is worth mentioning that it was his fabulous piece of skill that won the penalty in the first place, although, that doesn’t exactly excuse missing it. I preferred the days when the player that won the foul didn’t take the kick.

Mesut’s attitude has also been questioned, and I can’t say I don’t see why. He does exude a certain petulance when things don’t go his way. Perhaps he’s just frustrated with himself, but occasionally he is guilty of moping when he should be focusing on the game. It was good to see Flamini have a subtle word in his ear at one point in the second half.

If the momentum started to flag when the penalty was saved, it was totally depleted once Bayern were awarded one. There’s little doubt Szczesny’s challenge warranted penalising, but I can’t say I agree with the red card. Was it a clear goalscoring opportunity? Maybe, or maybe not. Robben was headed away from the goal after controlling the ball and Arsenal had a couple of players recovering behind him. The Dutchman also went down as if shot in the face with a grenade launcher, which irked me no end. However, going by the letter of the law, it’s a decision we have to accept – even with the grey area around it. The fact that Alaba also missed seems irrelevant at this point.

From then on, the game was dead. A man light against Bayern was always going to be a struggle up an icy hill wearing rollerskates. They kept the ball and ensured our players chased shadows. Eventually the goals came from a splendid strike by Kroos early in the second half and a header in the final stages from Muller. 2-0 down now seems insurmountable in the return fixture.

Strangely, I still feel calm about the result. In a sea of preposterous fury and countless calls for Player X and Player Z to be shoot into outer space, my feelings are simple; we lost to the best Club side in Europe with 10 men for over half of the game. For 30 minutes we had a really good go at them. Sometimes in football things go against you and you lose matches. Yes – it could have been a different story had Ozil opened the scoring, or if Szczesny stayed on the pitch. It could have been, but it wasn’t.

The players did there best and to throw vitriol at them in the face of defeat is churlish. Some deserve criticism, some do not. None of them warrant outrageously foolish and lengthy diatribes written across the Internet that come only from a place of bitterness and frustration. Some of them – Yaya Sanogo – did really well in patches and might even be worthy of a little praise – I’m beginning to quite like the look of the young Frenchman.

On that note, I feel it’s time to end this post. Realistically, the Champions League was the toughest ask of the three potentially winnable competitions we remain in. The prestige is the highest, but a little domestic success somehow has a nicer feel to it to me. I’m not entirely sure why. The game isn’t over, of course. We have gone to the Allianz Arena and won before, and we might just be able to do it again. It’ll be an extraordinarily difficult task, but not impossible. Who knows…

The comments are below. Use them to discuss the key points of the game and what your thought of the way things panned out.  I’ll look forward to reading a few of them. I shall return with more tomorrow at the usual time.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

15 Comments

Filed under Match reviews

15 Responses to Ozil Blunders, Sanogo Starts, Szczesny Sees Red and Arsenal Fall to Defeat.

  1. LeBigMac

    Well written James, I have spent the morning so far having to listen to the angry mob on talksport dissecting the game to their own ends but unreality we were excellent for 35 minutes then a bad decision changed the face of the game.
    The fact that Ozil didn’t appear to be “on it” was no surprise, something has definitely changed with him since joining and I hope it is only the Pires factor….
    Sanogo? the boy does look good but he definitely does look like he gets his feet tangled in front of goal a little too easily, still that will come with calmness and minutes I suppose.

    As for Robben, I never liked him at Chelski so it was no surprise that he did what he did but I too noticed the spit on Sagna during the match and thought I must be seeing things. That kind of behaviour is despicable in my mind and there should really be some follow up by the various stuffy pointless panels to see if he should be ostracised for being a baldy headed sly spitting c@ck!

    I too think there is more to be gained from our domestic season especially if we handle each game like the way we played the first 35 last night

    Disappointed but not surprised and the first time I have watched a game in years with no nerves, just disappointment at how it was wrecked.

    COYG

  2. Joy

    Well written @LeBigMac. However, Is there a chance ramsey will be fit for the second leg? I’ve always felt ozil functions better with ramsey around. I, personally, am proud of our team. Not a single fault spotted. Still optimistic going into the second leg. VCC.

  3. lance

    we have no luck in europe. the final with 10 men, rvp being harshly sent off against barca last nights red card.
    what wenger needs to do now is to get the team off the flying starts in the league as well. if we play like we did in the first 35 mins against the epl teams we wil be closing games by half time. We look so much better with Sanogo hope he stays fit to keep giroud out. Any news of Gibbs ?

  4. Leroy

    Strangely enough, even I’m not as devastated by this result as I was after the Liverpool game. We could see the class, the potential when we forced Bayern into their own half at times; the resistance when we defended as a unit. There’s no reason why I can’t see a repeat of last year’s performance at the Allianz Arena. Go Gunners !!!

  5. Alex

    Well first post on here but have been following for a while. Have to agree with all the sentiments here. I was fortunate enough to be there lay night and the atmosphere was fantastic, fans getting behind the team right to the final whistle. I think we have it as good a shot as we could and should now focus on the cup and League. I loved Sanogo’s ‘have a go’ attitude too. Really looking forward to seeing more of him!

  6. It’s a shame the ref spoiled the spectacle but there is no shame in losing 2-0 to a Bayern side especially with 10 men.

    It was nice to watch the game with you last night but you got fucking ketchup on my shirt you bastard!

  7. nijwm

    it’s such a pity from a neutral’s point of view and really frustrating from an arsenal fan’s point of view that a match that looked exciting had to finish 10 vs 11. we’re only left with a sense of ‘what if’. the media is going gaga over bayern, their passing masterclass, kroos control. of course everyone knows they’re the best team in europe right now. over the 90 minutes they deserved to win. but let’s not forget they played the second half against a 10 men arsenal team that had matched bayern until sezczny’s send-off.

    but i think a major turning point of the match was gibbs’ injury. monreal really should’ve anticipated robben’s run instead of ball watching. coming up against the likes of goetze and lahm on the flanks was always going to be difficult, and since monreal has not been in the best of forms, i had a nagging fear when he came on.

    ozil’s performance- i almost had a premonition that he’d miss the penalty. i’m really not a fan of penalty takers who take short, stuttering run ups to take the kick and try to be too clever. even the best penalty taker can miss one, but apparently that’s his third consecutive penalty miss. to be honest, the kick was weak and the ball did not move toward the middle. the ball bends towards neuer’s right almost as if his palms had attracted the ball or ozil was aiming for neuer’s palms

    besides the penalty miss, it’s difficult to judge ozil’s performance from an attacking sense and he’s not known for his defensive play either. but he’s been criticized a lot lately for his body language, that he allegedly lacks passion, looks petulant, not strong enough. ballack has commented that he looks lost in this arsenal team. didn’t look that way during his first 3-4 months.

    so what’s happened? i don’t know what his psychological make up is, but if he doesn’t pick up his form soon, he’ll be labelled a typical arsenal player- brilliant technically but psychologically suspect under pressure. let me be a little alarmist or scaremonger and hypothesize that maybe, he’s unhappy at arsenal and finding it difficult to adjust to life in england, both professionally and personally. i know i might sound a bit weird but what if he doesn’t like the players playing alongside him as compared to the likes of ronaldo and higuain with whom he played in madrid or what if he doesn’t like the british weather?

    i’d give him the benefit of the doubt at the moment with the ‘still adjusting to the english game’ and ‘lack of rest’ and ‘absence of walcott and ramsey arguments’. however, at some point he’d have to convince the doubters. i would be more than happy if he has 6 brilliant games and 6 poor games in the remaining 12 league games we have.

    PS- apologies for the long post, if i’ve sounded sensationalist or offended someone.

  8. switchblade_smiles

    Yesterday’s result was far more disappointing than the performance. Ozil’s only real shortcoming was missing the penalty (which he only took because after Arteta and Giroud, he’s next designated penalty taker). Also, I think Flamini gets too much of an easy ride from too many fans because he plays to the gallery (runs a lot, fouls, shouts, sleeves, etc). He was majorly at fault for the killer goal yesterday (as was WIlshere for rushing the free kick), but most of the criticism in most places is being laid at Koscielny’s doorstep instead.

    • @switchblade_smiles: I have to disagree with blaming Flamini. Koscielny’s surge up to attack at such a time left a gaping hole in the defence. Perhaps Flamini should have covered better, but he was essentially covering two positions in Laurent’s absence – something I didn’t agree with him doing and such a point in the game.

  9. Nice summary. Often read your posts but seldom if ever comment.
    Check out AA and you will see many many reasonable comments without any knee jerking moments.

    Keep up the good work

    kelsey

  10. HMmmmm* Still a #ProudlyGOONERETTE

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