HomeSportNo defence, as Per usual

No defence, as Per usual

The first Arsenal fans started to leave after just 19 minutes.
And who could blame them?

Report by The Sun

Glancing over his shoulder, one red-faced punter exploded: “Two thousand quid a season to watch this c**p? They must think we’re idiots.”

Already two goals down and with three players booked, Arsenal had effectively committed suicide.

As they so often have in Europe.

Against Manchester United in the 2009 semi-final second leg at the Emirates they were 2-0 down and 3-0 behind on aggregate after only 10 minutes.

Last season they were hammered 4-0 by AC Milan at the San Siro.
They couldn’t have made a worse start last night. I’ll correct that. In fact, they might have been four down.

Once again it was a tale of catastrophic defending with Arsenal players totally failing to attack the balls into the box — the first a cross, the second a corner — that led to the opening two goals from Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller.

The talk from the eternal optimists before the game — including many so-called experts who really should know better by now — had been about what Arsenal’s pace up front could do to the Bayern back four.
But everyone else knew it would be a tale of Wenger’s brittle and ever-suspect defence being found out once again.

In his fraught pre-match Press conference Wenger had stressed that Arsenal would be in serious trouble if they made their customary slow start against a team as accomplished as Bayern Munich.

He knew it, his team knew it. But they were powerless to do anything about it.

Which tells you all you need to know about the manager and his side.
First, the defenders — Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Bacary Sagna et al — are not good enough. They never will be.
And who, pray, bought them?

Yes, they pulled a goal back through Lukas Podolski. Yes, they got better after that — but they could hardly have failed to.

And, yes, they might even have levelled when Tomas Rosicky found Theo Walcott with a 60-yard ball for a cross that Olivier Giroud connected well with only to shoot straight at Manuel Neuer.

But even this 20-minute revival exposed Wenger and his tactics.
He chose to start Walcott down the middle and Aaron Ramsey on the right, two decisions that backfired.

Walcott was isolated while Ramsey proved again that he is out of his depth against opposition as good as Bayern — and even opposition not as good.

But it took the Arsenal boss 70 minutes to rectify it. Only for Mario Mandzukic to then complete Bayern’s masterclass.

So where now for Wenger after a result that spells the end of their Euro hopes and almost certainly makes it eight years of famine — and no reason to believe a ninth will suddenly see any change?

Well, if Arsenal fail to qualify for Europe’s premier competition then he should bow out at the end of the season. Even if he does not, you feel the time has come.

He had spoken before the game about how his sides had attitude, team spirit and mental strength. He was whistling in the dark.

He had also said that one day we would realise that this team had “fantastic” qualities. Against Newcastle, Southampton, Reading and West Ham, perhaps.

Against serious sides, though, they are now not even contenders.
After this latest setback, Wenger talked of his team’s nerves and the fact that Bayern were one of the best — if not the best. — in

Yet not all that long ago, the Gunners were also beaten 2-0 at home by Schalke, a team that labours some 27 points and eight places behind Jupp Heynckes’ side.

What we saw last night was a superior European team and an average one.

One 15 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga and another 21 points behind Manchester United.

One heading in only one direction in Europe, the other maybe the poorest ensemble ever put together by Wenger in his 16 years at Arsenal.

The loyalists still preach the Wenger mantra, that Arsene still knows best.

But the once great man looks to have run out of both ideas and inspiration.

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