Bayern Munich produced a solid display as they brushed Arsenal aside to come away with a 3-1 win at the Emirates in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 clash.
Against an Arsenal team that looked low on confidence and a bit disjointed, Bayern took full advantage and will now take a comfortable lead back to the Alianz Arena.
Arsene Wenger chose to start Theo Walcott in a central role up front with a midfield five led by Jack Wilshere.
Due to Nacho Monreal being cup tied and Kieran Gibbs injured, captain Thomas Vermaelen started at left-back which left Per Mertesacker partnering Laurent Koscielny in central defence. There were no surprises in the Bayern line-up as Jupp Heynckes opted for his tried and tested unit this season.
The game started off at a superb tempo as the game was nicely flowing end-to-end. Though Arsenal had good possession they failed to create any real openings from it. Meanwhile, Bayern on the other hand looked more incisive and punished the hosts in just the seventh minute, when Toni Kroos thundered in a right footed effort from outside the box which had the beating of Wojciech Szczesny.
On 21 minutes, the deficit was doubled as Thomas Mueller took full advantage of some hapless defending from Arsenal. The Bavarians took control of the midfield and effectively snuffed out all of Arsenal’s chances as their key men in Walcott, Wilshere and Santi Cazorla were completely isolated.
The Gunners began the second half much better with Wilshere coming into his own. Driving them on from midfield, he began to win more of his battles with Bayern’s enforcers Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez.
The spell of sustained pressure yielded a goal as former Bayern man Lukas Podolski found himself free in the penalty area to head home on 55 minutes. With no further breakthrough coming, Wenger brought on striker Olivier Giroud and he had an immediate impact as he almost drew Arsenal level; his effort saved by Manuel Neuer.
But, Arsenal were shaky at the back all night, Mertesacker in particular had a torrid time dealing with Bayern's front men, and every time Bayern ventured forward, they looked capable of opening Arsenal up.
On 77 minutes, Arjen Robben, on as a sub for Franck Ribery, latched onto a through ball on the right and passed up to an overlapping Philip Lahm whose low cross was deflected in by Mario Mandzukic.
This latest defeat heaps more pressure on manager Arsene Wenger, as Bayern have one, if not both feet in the quarter-finals already, and Arsenal look down the road at another season without a trophy.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Toni Kroos
Superb on the night with his passing and vision. Initiated most of Bayern's attacks and ventured forward to assist in attack, grabbing the opener in the process.
Struggled a bit when Wilshere upped his game, but by then he'd done his bit to secure Bayern a resounding win.
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