Arsenal’s European season looks over after they were beaten 3-1 by Bayern Munich in the champions League last 16 first leg at Emirates Stadium.
Arsene Wenger’s men spoke of a making a statement of intent after the shock defeat to Blackburn Rovers last weekend but were outclassed by the Bundesliga leaders.
The Gunners can take some heart from being the first team to score past Manuel Neuer in 2013, and probably should have done so more than once, but the scoreline could have been worse had the Bavarians finished off all their opportunities.
The Emirates Stadium crowd was in good voice at the start but, as is so regularly the case these days, they were silenced by an early goal form the opposition.
Just seven minutes has passed before Toni Kroos to slam the ball past Wojciech Szczesny from the edge of the area after a cross from the left was poorly defended – a reoccurring theme throughout the match.
Hapless defending was once again to blame for the second on 20 minutes and a corner from the right was headed towards goal by Daniel van Buyten and Szczesny’s save sat up perfectly for Thomas Muller to bundle home from a yard out.
It was a disastrous opening to the game from the Gunners and the home crowd were stunned as Bayern’s movement and passing made the north Londoners look distinctly ordinary.
It should have been 3-0 a few minutes before half-time but Mario Mandzukic’s header whistled past the post after Lahm had found him unmarked in the middle of the Arsenal area.
Wenger’s men seem to have a mental block in the first half of games this season and showed again that a little break could do them good.
They came out for the second period with greater purpose and were abler to impose themselves on Bayern.
Jack Wilshere’s corner ten minutes into the second half was watched by everyone, including Neuer, and Lukas Podolski was on hand to nod into the empty net from ten yards out.
It gave the Gunners hope but there are only so many times they can come back from two goals down.
Wilshere was once again the stand out performer in his side but his desire could not be matched by many of his teammates
They should have been level with little over a quarter of an hour left when Theo Walcott’s centre found second half substitute Olivier Giroud in space in the area, but the big Frenchman could only shoot straight at Neuer.
It would be Arsenal’s last sniff of a goal as Jupp Heynckes brought on Luis Gustavo to shut the game down.
A 2-1 defeat would leave Arsenal with a small something to hold on to in the second leg but tired legs meant a final crushing blow was dealt.
Thomas Vermaelen had struggled defensively all evening but he could do nothing when left isolated against both Lahm and second half substitute Arjen Robben.
Lahm crossed after receiving it on the overlap and Bacary Sagna could only help Mandzukic’s shot loop up and into the net for a third with little time left.
It knocked the life out of Wenger’s men on the night and all but guaranteed they would be knocked out of the competition.
Arsenal will have to pull off something special when they travel to the Allianz Arena in three weeks, but it looks highly unlikely against a terrific Bayern side.
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