All of Arsenal showed up at the wrong time, a little bit too late. Santi Cazorla looked like the player he was earlier this season, with an all-around great effort, making up for the absence of Jack Wilshere, but it was simply not enough, because one match, one impressive away win doesn’t take away from years of mediocrity and decline.
As Arsene Wenger and his supporters try to cling on to anything that might justify him staying with Arsenal for a longer period of time, will try and claim that this match is the proof of how good Arsenal can be under his guidance. That they didn’t go through because of the away goals rule that is a complete joke and needs to cancelled.
And if you don’t follow Arsenal on a match-to-match basis, and haven’t been seeing them decline from champions, to contenders, to a team settling for a place in the Champions League and now to a team that might miss the competition for the first time in 13 years, you might be fooled by the impressive win against a complacent Bayern Munich, who were missing their most important player, Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Suddenly, even without Jack Wilshere, the boy wonder that seems to hurt, unintentionally, other players by his presence and dominance, Arsenal managed to put together impressive stretches of passing and skills we’ve hardly seen from them this season. Their goals didn’t come from any impressive passing moves, but actually from set pieces, finally being the team that dominates a sector of the match that belongs to the less naive and soft; in short, not Arsenal, not usually.
But with a proper left back and not an improvisation – Kieran Gibbs getting the start, and getting a lot of help from Santi Cazorla who simply shadowed Philipp Lahm whenever the right back tried to make something happen for Bayern on the wing, made the flank that was disastrous for the gunners in the first leg look solid and fortified. Arjen Robben, as always, can be trusted to mess it up for the other teams with a selfish display that almost cost his team the quarterfinals.
Sometimes goals don’t tell the truth about a match, the whole story. Olivier Giroud’s opener came out of nowhere, and the comfortable evening stroll Bayern Munich thought they were heading into turned into a nervous nightmare, turned worse by a lucky header from Laurent Koscielny in the second half.
Bayern, this season, aren’t a team that know how to play it safe. There hasn’t been any need. And even with the lead, they didn’t calm the match down. They kept trying to attack, but without Franck Ribery and Schweinsteiger, looked rather limited and clueless plenty of times. Thomas Muller had to often play in a position he isn’t comfortable with, while Arjen Robben, again, made too many mistakes only he can make.
It’s on to the league for Arsenal, who shouldn’t be disillusioned by one impressive match under special circumstances. They are the lesser side in the race for the Champions League, and will need this kind of ability and more, not to mention consistency, if their Champions League streak is to remain alive.