Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

Arsenal have that familiar feeling

Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny (L) challenges Bayern’s Arjen Robben (R) before he was sent off (Reuters) Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny (L) challenges Bayern’s Arjen Robben (R) before he was sent off (Reuters)
By: New York Times | London | Posted: February 21, 2014 5:22 am | Updated: February 21, 2014 12:32 pm

his two previous penalties and confidence has drained from him over the past two months. But attempt it he did. His run-up was tentative, his shot tame and Manuel Neuer, the goalkeeper who has known all there is to know about Ozil since they grew up together, stopped the shot with a mighty right hand.

So two penalties awarded, none converted. However, with the relentless Munich attacks bearing down, the defiant but tiring Arsenal defense was bound to fall. It did so twice.

At 54 minutes, Kroos, Robben and Philipp Lahm, the most inventive performers on the field, combined.

The shot from Kroos, arched toward the top corner, had just enough swerve and surprise to brush the glove of Arsenal’s reserve goalie, Lukasz Fabianski, before it nestled in the net.

Then, minutes before the end of the game, a Bayern substitute, Claudio Pizarro, made a decoy run to pull Arsenal’s big defender, Per Mertesacker, away from the goalmouth. It was all planned.

Muller, another sub, was fit, fresh and alert enough to strike with a well-timed stooping header.

Arsenal’s resolve was demolished. Every Wenger player, and the coach himself, will tell himself that they won in Munich a year ago, so why would they not believe they can do the same in the second leg next month?

The answer is that Bayern’s players know they were complacent then. They did not need the points, so they relaxed and were beaten. No one dared, as Arsenal dared that night in Bavaria, to take the game to Munich.

HOME BLUES

Bayern has not lost a game it needed to win in the past 16 months in becoming the Bundesliga, German Cup, Champions League and World Club Cup holder.

There is a pattern developing, and not only in Munich. All four matches in Champions League this week were won by the away team. None of the four home teams scored even one goal.

That was the case in Italy, where A.C. Milan, trying to rebuild under new coach Clarence Seedorf, succumbed, 1-0, to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday. Diego Costa, That may have been the closest encounter of the round of 16 games this week, but Atletico often finds a way to eke out a goal in tight contests — and often that way is Diego Costa, whose topwering looping header won it for them.

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