Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Alexis, Ozil, Walcott
Subs: Macey, Debuchy, Chambers, Gibbs, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud
Arsenal kept their European hopes alive as late goals from Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil helped them to a fantastic 2-0 win over Bayern Munich at the Emirates this evening.
After the 3-0 win against Watford at the weekend, Arsene Wenger named an unchanged side to take on the Bundesliga giants. Having earmarked Robert Lewandowski as the danger man, there were hearts in mouths as the Polish international took off towards goal inside the opening 30 seconds, only a last ditch intervention from Hector Bellerin prevented a shot.
At the other end the Spanish full back got in behind but was flagged offside, and despite the visitors having most of the ball, Arsenal crafted the best chance of the game in the 7th minute. An Alexis run saw the ball break to Mesut Ozil, his right footed shot was well saved by Manuel Neuer and Theo Walcott’s follow up blocked.
At the other end brilliant interplay by Bayern presented Thomas Muller with a chance from point blank range but anything Neuer could do, so could Petr Cech and he stood up to make a brilliant stop. The Germans dominated possession, helped by a somewhat passive Arsenal side who sat off a bit too much and didn’t put enough pressure on them.
Walcott had an effort easily saved by Neuer, Lewandowski shot over with his left foot, before Cech was called into action again as he palmed away an effort from Arturo Vidal. Walcott again showed some attacking promise, combining with Alexis but couldn’t get a shot away from inside the area, and from a corner the Gunners had their best chance of the game.
The ball fell to Alexis with nobody around him, it sat up perfectly to be hit on the half volley, but the Chilean smashed it over the bar rather than into the net. It was a bad miss. And for all the Bayern possession, they had their keeper to thank for keeping the scores level as he made an incredible stop from Walcott in the 34th minute.
Monreal crossed it from the left, Walcott was 6 yards out, he stooped and headed it at goal, but Neuer made an unbelievable save, scooping the ball off the line to keep it out. However, Walcott really should be scoring from that position, and from the rebound Ramsey’s follow up was blocked, seeing the ball skid across the line.
The England man was causing them problems though, and again had another effort saved by the German keeper, before casual play from Alexis presented a great chance to Douglas Costa but he saw his shot deflect over the bar from a very dangerous position. There were shouts for a Bayern penalty when Alexis looked to handle in the area, the referee looking straight at it played on – a decision for which Arsenal should be grateful.
Neither side could fashion another chance before the break, and the teams went in level, the second half beginning with the same line-ups. It began the same way as the first half with Bayern dominating possession and the dangerous Costa fizzing a shot inches over the bar, and fingertips from Cech touching a Lewandowski shot over. From the resulting corner the Czech international saved again from Costa’s low effort.
There was a blow for the Gunners when Ramsey pulled a hamstring in the 56th minute, replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Fine play from Monreal and Ozil created a shooting opportunity for Coquelin, his effort flew wide however. Alexis was culpable again of careless play, presenting a chance to Lewandowski but Mertesacker blocked well and Alonso’s follow up from distance trickled wide.
It was all Bayern in terms of possession, with the Gunners defending well. On the rare occasion they did get forward, Walcott’s header was easy for Neuer. Guardiola made his first changes in the 70th minute, putting on Kimmich and Rafinha for Alonso and Vidal, while 4 minutes later Olivier Giroud replaced Theo Walcott.
There was real danger when Lewandowski had a clear sight of the goal for the first time since the opening minute, but committed defending from Koscielny and a good save from Cech saw his shot deflected over the bar. Muller fizzed a shot wide, but moments later the Gunners took the lead.
Having won a free kick in midfield, Giroud was the man to get the goal, although it might prove contentious. The ball was floated in by Cazorla, Neuer came and missed, the ball bounced off Giroud’s hand and into the net. 1-0. It didn’t look deliberate, he was falling forward, but you can be sure there will be complaints.
Arsene Wenger made his final change in the 83rd minute, bringing on Gibbs for a clearly knackered Alexis, and there was almost a second when Giroud had a chance from a corner. The Frenchman’s jump just wasn’t quite timed right and the header lacked the power it needed. He made a difference though, getting back to defend well when needed as Arsenal looked to hang on.
Thiago fired in a shot from distance which Cech saved, there was late danger from Lewandowski who turned Koscielny but forgot to shoot, and in injury time a second goal made it safe. Bellerin made a brilliant interception in midfield, got a cross in, Ozil’s shot looked like it was saved but it was behind the line and that made the game safe. 2-0.
What a massive win, and a fantastic performance from every single man in red and white out there. For all their possession, we took our chances and keep our chances of qualifying from group alive.