For the second time in a couple of days one of the Premier League’s top clubs was humbled at home by a club from Europe’s highest echelon. But the similarities don’t end there. Both teams were reduced to ten men, both were beaten 0-2 and both defeated managers complained about decisions that went against their clubs. Rather like Manuel Pellegrini on Tuesday, Arsene Wenger bemoaning of his side’s ill fortune last night smacked more of disappointment than justified indignation.
Gunners’ fans would have been greatly encouraged by the start of the game. In a very un-Arsenal way, the home team hustled and bustled the competition’s champions in what many would describe as a very ‘British’ way. It may not have been the sophisticated football that Wenger preaches, but it certainly gave the Gunners an early foothold in the game. It also produced a penalty for them that may have been the game’s defining moment. As Ozil’s weakly hit shot was comfortably turned away by Neuer, the deflation among the fans and players was palpable. Had the German netted, we could have had a different outcome, but from that moment, the die seemed to be set. Of course Bayern also missed their own spot kick, but by that time it appeared that the Bavarian club had established a dominance of the game that was only enhanced by the dismissal of Szczesny for the penalty incident. So just how dominant were Bayern? Well, a few stats tell a convincing story.
If we look at the figures on passing and possession, the German dominance is pretty emphatic. Bayern completed almost four times as many passes as Arsenal and had a completion rate of nearly 95%. Across the entire match – and bear in mind it was only half-adozen minutes or so short of half-time when Szczeney was dismissed, so Arsenal they had the full complement of players for almost half of the game – Bayern had 79% of possession, which peaked at 88% in the second period. This resulted in them having 26 shots to the home team’s eight. Perhaps the most damning stat however is that midfielder Toni Kroos (a reported target of Manchester United), who netted the first goal with an elegant shot from outside the area, completed on his own completed the same number of passes (149 with a passing accuracy of 97%) as the combined of the 12 Arsenal outfield players throughout the game.
Toni Kroos completed 144/149 (97%) passes last night, more than any player in a Champions League match this season. pic.twitter.com/3d1i7FdCF7
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 20, 2014
The most effective Arsenal player appeared to be new tyro striker Yaya Sanogo who had three attempts on goal and certainly caused some early upset to the Bayern backline with his muscular approach. Mesut Ozil however disappointed again, with the fluffed penalty being his single shot on target.
It is of course important to remember that the Gunners were facing the European champions. This is a team that has won 16 out of 20 European ties since they lifted the trophy last year, They are nearing a half century of unbeaten Bundesliga games, having taken an amazing 93 points from the last 99 available in that league, and netting 155 goals in their last 55 games. Yes, the competition at this rarefied level is fierce, but this is the biggest club competition in the world, and coming up a little short, as Arsenal did, is not something to try and wriggle away from. A word from Bayern Munich’s manager Pep Guardiola in his post-match press conference probably best sums up the game. He related that “Arsenal were much, much better than us in the first 10-15 minutes, after the mistake from Ozil the game was equal. From that moment we played better and after the red card for the goalkeeper the game was for us.”
Stats courtesy: Squawka, BBC
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