• HABARI MPYA

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    ARSENAL YAFUMULIWA 3-1 NYUMBANI NA BAYERN


    The ball looped in the air, spinning, spinning, and by the time it landed, Arsenal were as good as out of Europe. This will in all  likelihood be their last home Champions League match of the season. The greater worry is that it may be their last here for a while.
    On December 9, 2009, Liverpool lost 2-1 at Anfield against Fiorentina in Champions League Group E. That was considered a temporary aberration, too. Liverpool were seventh in the domestic table at the time, but only three points off fourth place. It had been a poor European campaign with three defeats in six matches, but they had the Europa League to focus on after Christmas and would regroup under Rafael Benitez.
    Except three managers later, Liverpool have never passed this way again. Unless the next three months bring a quite stunning Premier League revival, Liverpool are heading for four years without Champions League football.
    Bad start: Toni Kroos smashes Bayern ahead with a superb volley in just the seventh minute
    Bad start: Toni Kroos smashes Bayern ahead with a superb volley in just the seventh minute
    Glove affair: Germany midfielder Kroos celebrates his fine early strike at the Emirates Stadium
    Glove affair: Germany midfielder Kroos celebrates his fine early strike at the Emirates Stadium
    Huge pressure: Arsene Wenger and assistant Steve Bould watch on stony faced from the sidelines
    Huge pressure: Arsene Wenger and assistant Steve Bould watch on stony faced from the sidelines

    Match facts

    Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey (Rosicky 71), Cazorla, Podolski (Giroud 71), Walcott. 
    Subs not used:Mannone, Diaby, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Jenkinson.
    Goals: Podolski 55.
    Booked: Sagna, Vermaelen, Arteta, Ramsey, Podolski.
    Bayern Munich: Neuer, Lahm, Van Buyten, Dante, Alaba, Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger, Muller, Kroos (Gustavo 73), Ribery (Robben 83), Mandzukic (Gomez 78). 
    Subs not used: Starke, Shaqiri, Rafinha, Tymoschuk.
    Goals: Kroos 7, Muller 21, Mandzukic 77.
    Booked: Lahm, Muller, Schweinsteiger.
    Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway)
    Attendance: 59,974
    Arsene Wenger loyalists will not be viewing this as the beginning of the end either, of course. Arsenal are four points from Tottenham Hotspur in fourth place, and still have to visit White Hart Lane on March 3.
    The most extreme wing of Wenger devotees may even harbour fantasies that this reverse can be turned around next month, too. Although not on yesterday’s evidence.
    Bayern Munich were effortlessly superior. It was not so much that they bossed Arsenal, but that they did so with the suggestion there was better to come. 
    Against one of the true heavyweights of Europe this season — Juventus, perhaps, or Barcelona — one feels Munich could turn it up to 11. 
    When Arsenal had the temerity to claw their way back thanks to a fluke goal from Lukas Podolski, Munich simply went up the other end and scored again. Had Mario Mandzukic not missed the most straightforward header just before half-time it would hardly be worth sending the first team to Bavaria on March 13.
    As it is, Arsenal could win 2-0 in Munich and still go out. They will need one of the greatest comebacks in the history not just of the club, but of the European game, to progress.
    From bad to wurst: Thomas Muller (centre) pounces to prod the German giants two goal to the good
    From bad to wurst: Thomas Muller (centre) pounces to prod the German giants two goal to the good
    Back of the net: Germany forward Muller (floored) watches as his poked shot flies past Wojciech Szczesny
    Back of the net: Germany forward Muller (floored) watches as his poked shot flies past Wojciech Szczesny
    Back of the net: Germany forward Muller (floored) watches as his poked shot flies past Wojciech Szczesny
    Back of the net: Germany forward Muller (floored) watches as his poked shot flies past Wojciech Szczesny
    Let the inquest begin: Per Mertesacker (centre) shows his unhappiness at Muller's goal
    Let the inquest begin: Per Mertesacker (centre) shows his unhappiness at Muller's goal
    The third goal did it. Until then, Arsenal still had a puncher’s chance. Yet once Philipp Lahm’s cross had spun in off Mandzukic and Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna, an unfortunate double act of perspiration and desperation, even the second leg carried an air of formality. 
    The only reason Arsenal are still involved at all is because one of the useless, over-promoted Scandinavian officials much favoured by UEFA intervened in a hapless way, and in doing so extended a much-frayed lifeline.
    A corner that never was resulted in a goal that never should have been, ending a defensive record that confounds credibility given the sight before our eyes. 
    Lifeline: Lukas Podolski (right) celebrates with Per Mertesacker after scoring in the second half
    Lifeline: Lukas Podolski (right) celebrates with Per Mertesacker after scoring in the second half
    Poacher: Podolski capitalised on Manuel Neuer's mistake to head into an unguarded net against his old club
    Poacher: Podolski capitalised on Manuel Neuer's mistake to head into an unguarded net against his old club
    Ten minutes into the second half, with Arsenal two goals down, Santi Cazorla took a shot which hit Podolski on the back and diverted for a goal-kick. Except referee Svein Oddvar Moen from Norway had other ideas.
    Springing into useless, over-promoted action, he gave a corner, causing Bayern to complain and perhaps lose their concentration. Jack Wilshere whipped the ball in, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer failed to come for it and Bastian Schweinsteiger at the far post remained rooted to his spot. 
    Incredibly, the ball simply pitched in the penalty area and bounced to Podolski, who headed it in, ending 664 minutes without conceding for the Germans, a record that stretches back to last year.
    Soon after, Olivier Giroud forced a superb save from Neuer after a Theo Walcott cross and Bayern were briefly rattled. Then came the goal that gave the scoreline its proper dimension. Munich were at least two goals better on the night: plus better technically, better organised and with greater attacking threat.
    The dream — some may have called it a fantasy and a far-fetched one at that — was that Arsenal could repeat the underdog feat performed by Chelsea last season in Europe, and continue winning against superior opposition. 
    The contradiction being that Chelsea were a resilient team of champions that had underachieved in one season, while this Arsenal side have few memories of triumph on which to draw. This is a club without a trophy since 2005. These days,  Arsenal players leave to succeed. Since the FA Cup was raised aloft in Cardiff eight years ago, those departing have won 64 trophies; those that remained, none.
    Scrappy: Mario Mandzukic (centre left) gets on the end of a cross to bundle in Bayern's third goal
    Scrappy: Mario Mandzukic (centre left) gets on the end of a cross to bundle in Bayern's third goal
    All too easy: Szczesny watches in horror as the ball bounces into his net for a third time on the night
    All too easy: Szczesny watches in horror as the ball bounces into his net for a third time on the night
    It's all over: Schweinsteiger congratulates Mandzukic (centre) after his goal sealed victory
    It's all over: Schweinsteiger congratulates Mandzukic (centre) after his goal sealed victory
    Down and nearly out: Arsenal players reflect on another bad night as Bayern celebrate their victory in north London
    Down and nearly out: Arsenal players reflect on another bad night as Bayern celebrate their victory in north London
    Many felt this could be a troubling night for Arsenal, although few  suspected the home team would start as poorly as they did. They were a goal behind after seven minutes, two down on 22 and should have been three adrift when booed off at half- time had Mandzukic not missed the best chance of all.
    His free header summed up  Arsenal’s malaise. In 2006, when Wenger steered his team to the Champions League final, the  campaign was built on outstanding defence. 
    No more. When Munich  captain Lahm surged down the right, Arsenal’s defence had time to regroup, mark up and man up, too. Instead, when Mandzukic met the ball for a header in the penalty area he was in enough space to establish a small allotment, Per Mertesacker a yard away from him, posing like an interested bystander.
    Had Mandzukic known the space he was in, he might have been more careful about the placement of his header. He steered it wide. Looking back he will be filled with regret,  having been able to conclude the tie, just one quarter in.
    Fired up: Jack Wilshere gets involved in a confrontation with Kroos after a foul on Santi Cazorla
    Fired up: Jack Wilshere gets involved in a confrontation with Kroos after a foul on Santi Cazorla
    No way past: Bastian Schweinsteiger (second left) and Philipp Lahm combine to block Santi Cazorla's shot
    No way past: Bastian Schweinsteiger (second left) and Philipp Lahm combine to block Santi Cazorla's shot
    Frustration: Schweinsteiger received a yellow card from ref Svein Oddvar that earned him a one-match ban
    Frustration: Schweinsteiger received a yellow card from ref Svein Oddvar that earned him a one-match ban
    Not that many will be holding out much hope for Arsenal as is. The fighting spirit of English clubs  notwithstanding, Munich do not look much like a team that will surrender at home.
    They had the outstanding performers on the night here. Toni Kroos has arguably been the player of the season in the Bundesliga and he continued that form with a superbly taken first goal. 
    There was a hint of good fortune in the build-up, Thomas Muller’s cutback pass finding him more by luck than judgment, but Kroos’s execution was pitched perfectly, drilling his shot into the turf, kicking up and over a despairing Wojciech Szczesny in Arsenal’s goal.
    Alisher Usmanov
    Stan Kroenke
    Power brokers: Major shareholders Alisher Usmanov (left) and Stan Kroenke were in the stands
    In full voice: Bayern supporters lit up the Emirates with flares before the match
    In full voice: Bayern supporters lit up the Emirates with flares before the match
    The second, however, picked out a typical point of weakness. Kroos’s corner, inswinging, vicious, Arsenal’s defence naive and slow to act,  meaning Daniel van Buyten’s header was saved by Szczesny before Muller reacted first to turn it in.
    Only seven clubs have overturned a first-leg home deficit in the Champions League, and a two-goal margin gapes like a chasm. Arsenal require a backs-to-the-wall performance as great as anything Chelsea pulled off last season; greater, really, considering Wenger’s team need to reverse not just form, but recent history.

    EMIRATES MATCH ZONE

    Pep already onto a winner

    By the way Bayern popped the ball about last night, incoming manager Pep Guardiola won't have to work too hard, or spend too much money, to implement his tiki-taka style at the Allianz Arena when he arrives in the summer. It was not quite the Barcelona passing carousel, but it was lovely to watch nonetheless.

    Arsenal fans hit the boos
    There were more boos from the home support at the Emirates Stadium, this time at halftime. It seems, slowly but surely, the tide is turning against Wenger. They wanted a big reaction after the Blackburn loss. They didn't get it.
    Wenger gets to look at Gustavo

    Arsene Wenger would have been interested to see midfielder Luiz Gustavo come on for Bayern in the second half. The Gunners boss wants a holding midfielder in the summer, and the 25-year-old Brazilian is one of the candidates under consideration.
    Cazorla move backfires

    Arsenal boss Wenger sprung a tactical surprise in shifting Santi Cazorla out to the right and entrusting Aaron Ramsey with a place in central midfield alongside Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta. But, with Arsenal two down at the break, it was a tactic that backfired.
    Bayern fans celebrate their Fantasy Football

    Baddiel and Skinner's anthem Football's Coming Home is normally the optimistic song of choice for English football fans. But with their side 2-0 after just 22 minutes, it was the Bayern faithful who belted out the song at an otherwise muted Emirates. 
    By Sami Mokbe

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    Item Reviewed: ARSENAL YAFUMULIWA 3-1 NYUMBANI NA BAYERN Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Mahmoud Bin Zubeiry

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