German giants Bayern Munich hammered Arsenal 5-1 at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
The Bavarians have been one of the strongest teams in the competition in the last decade and they were simply too good for an Arsenal team whose chances of making the knockout stages are now in major doubt.
Injuries hit hard
Arsenal went into this clash with ten first team players missing. The likes of Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey, Hector Bellerin and Theo Walcott were badly missed.
The Gunners had to be at full strength to have any chance of claiming something at the Allianz Arena.
Those using injuries as an excuse for the defeat need to also look at the fact that Bayern Munich were not at full strength either. The likes of Mario Gotze and Franck Ribery are currently out action with injuries.
Dutch winger Arjen Robben has also just returned from injury and came off the Bayern bench to rub salt into the Arsenal wounds in the second half. Chilean central midfielder Arturo Vidal also only came on from the substitute’s bench, when he probably would have got into most teams in the competition.
There is no doubt that Arsenal would have had a better chance of defeating the German side if they had a fully-fit squad, but let’s face it when does Arsenal ever have a fully-fit squad?
Talent in abundance
Bayern Munich’s team is full of world-class talent with almost too many top players to talk about in one article. The likes of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller are the epitome of consistency. Those two are the players who win Bayern Munich games and trophies.
The pair are almost a guarantee that their team will score goals and sure enough both scored against the Gunners.
It was another less talked about talent former-Barcelona star Thiago Alcantara who ran the show against Arsenal. The Spanish international was highly-rated in the Catalan capital, but found it hard to claim a regular starting spot in the outstanding Barcelona midfield.
The Arsenal central midfield pairing of Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla struggled to cope with Thiago’s guile and vision. The 24-year-old is becoming the complete central midfielder and if he stays clear of niggling injuries he could become even more influential for Bayern and Spain.
Brazilian winger Douglas Costa was yet another player who caused the shaky Gunners backline no end of problems, as his direct running and intelligent movement made the Gunners looked very silly indeed. He caused problems in the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium and this time he was on the right end of the result.
Arsenal does have talented players in their squad, but such was the domination of Bayern, that the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez struggled to get any sort of foothold in the game. At 40 minutes, I had to check to see if Sanchez was actually on the field he had been so quiet.
Too far behind
Arsenal are now six points behind second place Olympiakos in a group that they were confident of progressing from.
In truth the Gunners should have easily qualified from the group, maybe not have won the group with the formidable Bayern’s presence in the group, but Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb are not exactly daunting opposition for a team looking to join Europe’s elite.
Courtesy of disastrous early defeats against Dinamo and Olympiakos earlier in the group Arsenal now have to win both of their remaining group games, including away at Olympiakos, a ground were they have a poor record.
The odds are against Arsenal making it to the knock-out stages of the competition with the north London outfit now odds of 7/2 to make it to the last 16 of Europe’s elite competition.
Not only are Arsenal behind in the group Arsene Wenger’s side have shown that they are not yet equipped to challenge the elite in the Champions League, if that was not already apparent prior to the group stages.
The 2-0 victory over Bayern at the Emirates Stadium a few weeks ago was a one-off, rather than a sign that Wenger’s side were about to threaten the German’s supremacy in the group.
The game illustrated just how far ahead the likes of Bayern Munich are not just of Arsenal, but the rest of the English Premier League. Bayern have knocked Manchester City out of the competition in recent years and also Arsenal.
Manchester City are the English team most likely to threaten the likes of Bayern, Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance of the Champions League, but the Citizens have achieved their success by spending big money, something Arsenal will not do under spend thrift Wenger.
Once again Arsenal has proven that they are not good enough to compete with the likes of Bayern Munich and that the German team are simply in a different league to the Gunners.
Will Arsenal ever be good enough to challenge Europe’s elite?