Welcome to Talking Heads.
Before and after every first-team fixture, our co-commentator and an Arsenal blogger will have their say on the game.
Arsenal took on Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday and our Talking Heads for this game were former Gunner Adrian Clarke and Avenell Dave from Arsenal Addict.
ADRIAN CLARKE, ARSENAL PLAYER CO-COMMENTATOR
Bayern Munich showed their class in this game, and it’s impossible to argue that they didn’t deserve to win the match. In the first half their cohesion was superb, and in truth they made the Gunners look quite ordinary with their superior passing and movement. After the break Arsenal showed more belief, and for a while they threatened to pull it back to 2-2, but the third Bayern goal on the break was an absolute killer.
Despite the impressive nature of Bayern’s performance I still felt all three goals were avoidable. For the first strike, two attempted clearances failed, and that led to the right-wing cross being delivered under no pressure at all. Then, as the ball was on its way to Toni Kroos, I wonder if the Gunners could have reacted quicker. That said, the first-time finish was exemplary. The second goal was disappointing. Daniel van Buyten’s run across the defenders from the corner went unnoticed, and then Wojciech Szczesny will feel he should have held the header that rebounded to Thomas Muller. The last, crucial goal came from a well-timed overlap from Philipp Lahm that wasn’t tracked.
Overall it was a chastening evening where Arsenal were beaten by the better side. Very few goalscoring opportunities were created, and the visitors were very much in control. The boys have it all to do in Munich if they’re to stand a chance of reaching the last eight.
Arsenal haven’t had long to dwell on the shock of losing to Blackburn and that’s a positive. I’m sure the players have more than enough character to dust themselves down from that disappointment and focus on what has to be one of the biggest tests in European football, the might of Bayern Munich. I genuinely believe the last match will be forgotten the moment the players sit down to get changed this evening; the adrenaline will be pumping.
The most important aspect of this match is to keep a clean sheet. If Arsenal can go to Munich with a lead, or knowing that a score draw could take them through, that would be a fabulous position to be in at the final whistle. That said, I still expect the Gunners to be positive and go on the attack. After all, that’s the only way they really know how to play, and I sense that Jupp Heynckes’ side might be a little frightened of Theo Walcott’s pace. If he’s on song, it could be the catalyst for a destructive Arsenal performance.
Bayern Munich have the talent to destroy anyone though, and over two legs they are overwhelming favourites. The likes of Robben, Ribery, Muller, Mandzukic, Gomez and co will present plenty of headaches for Arsenal’s defenders. They’re going to have to concentrate incredibly hard to keep that clean sheet we’re looking for.
As for a prediction, I’ll plump for a 2-1 win. It wouldn’t be the ideal result, but I don’t think Arsène Wenger would be disappointed with it either.
AVENELL DAVE, ARSENAL ADDICT
It’s hard to know where the admiration for Bayern ends and the frustration with Arsenal begins, really. A number of fans I spoke to afterwards think Bayern’s disciplined, measured performance was the best they have ever seen at the Emirates - even better than Barca - and I can see why.
Yes, the Germans have some superb players but they are also well-drilled and hard-working, just as Barca were when we played them. Earning the right to play and stifling the opposition is an integral part of winning football matches and trophies and it’s something Arsenal don’t always do enough of. Bayern also targeted our left flank and it worked well. Thomas Vermaelen is not as comfortable at full back and was isolated at times but I’m also sure we could have done more on all three goals.
Now all focus must be on the remaining 12 Premier League games. We have some superb players and some who aren’t quite playing to their potential. It’s up to Arsène Wenger to nurse the squad through to the summer and then both overhaul and strengthen to ensure every squad place is filled by what he would describe as ‘super quality’.
We’re all disappointed by another season failing to compete at the business end of competitions but reaching the top four has to be the absolute focus now and Villa will be no pushovers.
Many fans scoff when Arsène Wenger says that he believes in his players but the way we have brushed teams aside this season suggests that we have the capability to compete. Inconsistency, application and attitude have been called into question and there is no doubt that more players need to follow Jack Wilshere’s example and fight for the shirt in every minute of every game. If every player really wanted it like Jack does, we would not be drawn into a ‘crisis’ - as the media and some fans like to put it - quite so often.
With egos bruised and fans disheartened, we will need a huge effort tonight to get something from the game against Bayern. They are about the most in-form team in Europe and their domestic record is up there with Barcelona's. With concerns about who plays at left back and Laurent Koscielny a doubt, we’re really up against it but I do fancy us to get something from the game and make the away leg more than just a jaunt to Munich.
However frustrating results or performances have been on occasion this season, the main thing us fans can do is get behind the team and make it as difficult as possible for Bayern to get into their stride.
* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband LtdCopyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 19 Feb 2013