Last night Arsenal suffered a 3-1 defeat to German giants Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
The Gunners were simply outclassed by the incisive visitors.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has come in for heavy criticism at times this season, but the players have to take the bulk of the blame for this defeat.
Quite simply the performance wasn’t good enough and the Gunners were outplayed by better players.
The current crop of Arsenal players are not good enough to play at the top level of European football.
There are very few of the Arsenal team that would make it into Bayern’s first team. For the last couple of summers Arsenal have been losing their best players and that transfer policy is starting to take its toll on the team.
Not only did Bayern look dangerous on the offensive they also looked solid at the back, apart from the one lapse that allowed Podolski to score Arsenal’s solitary goal. Bayern’s defence has been superb this season and are an example to Arsenal.
Arsenal’s defence could learn a lot from the Bayern Munich backline. The Gunners defence has stopped them winning silverware in recent years. No matter what combination of defenders that Wenger uses their backline never looks convincing.
Former-Arsenal centre-back Steve Bould is now Wenger’s assistant and was being credited with helping improve the Gunners defence at the start of the season. However, the Arsenal defence now seems to be back in the shambolic state of recent seasons.
I’m not sure how much of a say that Bould has in Arsenal’s tactics. He was part of one of the best defences that modern English football has produced and I’m sure he would have some good ideas for improvement in the Gunners defence.
His boss Wenger is apparent loathe to take on other peoples tactical ideas and maybe Bould is expressing his ideas, but is being completely ignored because of Wenger’s stubbornness.
Arsenal’s defence may have been poor last night, but Bayern had the sheer quality to expose those defensive weaknesses. Bayern wasn’t even at their best last night, but the Bundesliga leaders still oozed class.
They gave the feeling that they could even move up a gear if they really had to and when Arsenal did pose a threat they soaked up the pressure and hit the Gunners on the break to score what could be a vital third away goal.
Arsenal’s summer signings haven’t been terrible. In fact, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski have been two of the Gunners best players this season. However, the pair wasn’t at their best against the German side.
Bayern Munich were the nearly men of last season. Bayern finished as runners-up in the Champions League, German Cup and Bundesliga. The Bayern hierarchy responded by going out this summer and spending big. The Bundesliga leaders identified their weak positions and brought in players to improve those areas.
Bayern brought in three key players in Dante, Javi Martinez and Mario Mandzukic. All three players played a key role in not just Bayern’s victory at Arsenal, but have played a key role in Bayern’s fantastic season thus far.
Mandzukic is currently keeping Germany international Mario Gomez out of the first team. The Croatian international striker has scored 17 times this season for the German league leaders and the 26 year-old scored the third goal against Arsenal in last night’s clash.
Brazilian centre-back Dante joined Bayern in the summer from Borussia Monchengladbach and has been a really solid addition to their squad. The 29 year-old’s good form has led to a call-up to the Brazilian national team.
Spanish midfielder Javi Martinez arrived in Germany with a big price tag and reputation. The highly-rated midfielder struggled to settle in at Bayern at first, but his performances have started to slowly improve.
He produced a really disciplined display against Arsenal and is the sort of player that Arsenal need in the centre of the park, unfortunately the Gunners were unwilling to shell out an estimated £32million on one player in the summer.
In fact, the Gunners don’t usually spend that much in one transfer window and maybe that is the difference between the two clubs and teams.
There is very little chance of Arsenal progressing in the Champions League. The Gunners would have to be at their best in the second leg at the Allianz Arena and Bayern would have to have a bad day.
The difference in quality between Arsenal and Bayern was glaringly obvious in last night’s game. Last night’s result was just confirmation that current crop of Arsenal players are not good enough to pull on the red shirt.
AC Milan host Barcelona at the San Siro tonight in the first leg of their Champions League clash. The two teams are in very different places. Barcelona are strolling to the title in La Liga, while AC Milan are just recovering their form after a terrible start to their season.
Barca are by far the favourites to win the tie, but will have to be wary of Milan’s exciting young attacker Stephan El Shaarawy, among others. The tie won’t be easy for the Catalan giants, but Tito Vilanova’s side will expect to make it into the quarter-finals.
Are Arsenal good enough to be in the Champions League?