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 Wednesday and our Talking Heads for this game were studio guest Adrian Clarke and Arsenal blogger Gingers For Limpar.
Adrian Clarke Studio guestADRIAN CLARKE, STUDIO GUEST
Arsenal were gallant in defeat. Arsene Wenger’s gameplan was excellent and I thought the players carried out his instructions really well, it’s just such a pity they fell a goal short of what would have been a miraculous comeback.
Beating Bayern Munich 2-0 on their home patch is a fine achievement in its own right though, so all involved should be proud of what they produced at the Allianz Arena.
Defensively everyone deserves credit for their work rate, but special mentions should go Lukas Fabianski and Laurent Koscielny who were both excellent on their returns to the first team.
This is a result that should give the team plenty of confidence for the run-in. They weren’t fluent going forward but the players proved they are capable of grinding out wins anywhere in Europe.
It's going to take a colossal effort for Arsenal to qualify from this game, and the task has been made even tougher due to Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski being ruled out through injury. Wojciech Szczesny is being rested, so it will be interesting to see how Lukasz Fabianski or Vito Mannone will do in goal.
Bayern really impressed me in the first leg. They've got a collection of fantastic individual players who are all prepared to work hard for the team. They will be missing two of their key players though, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Franck Ribery suspended and injured respectively. That could prove heartening for Arsene Wenger's team and give them a boost before kick-off.
Arsenal need to come out and attack with purpose. Bayern are overwhelming favourites but if Arsenal can score early on, who knows what could happen? Hopefully we'll see a spirited performance.
Gingers For Limpar GINGERS FOR LIMPAR
Blimey, so miracles can happen. Or rather, they can get very close to happening. Aside from that one little final goal, required to send us through, the 2-0 victory was pretty much all we could have hoped for. Refreshingly, it has enveloped the club in a tangible feelgood factor - a happy change from the bad feeling that lingered after recent defeats to Blackburn and that lot from up the road.
The victory in the Allianz Arena has been received exceptionally well by the fans - partly, I think, because it was reminiscent of Arsenals of old. The aggressive back pages printed on Wednesday morning wrote off the Gunners’ hopes entirely, claiming that a weakened line-up would result in a farce and only serve to deepen the club’s woes.
In the event, the opposite happened, with the reports helping to create an 'us v them' backs-to-the-wall attitude that was evocative of the George Graham era. Even the referee chipped in, with the constant flow of free kicks awarded to the home side giving the impression that it really was Arsenal versus the world. Meanwhile, a strong and determined Arsenal team showed a level of commitment and composure that reminded us of the more recent past, when Arsene Wenger’s teams were steely and combative.
The conclusion is obvious: we need to take this determination and positivity into the rest of the season. This game has demonstrated how the mood around the club can change extremely quickly. The players need to ensure that it doesn’t flick back the wrong way, starting with a strong performance at Swansea.
Stranger things have happened. What were the chances, for example, of lanky bespectacled playwright Arthur Miller wooing buxom blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe into a marital bed? Indeed, what were the chances of Greece winning Euro 2004? And what were the chances of a slum-dwelling oaf like Rocky Balboa becoming boxing’s heavyweight champion of the world?
Arsenal, let’s face it, are going to need Balboa-esque inspiration to pull this off, having lost the first leg 3-1. They need a booming, bombastic orchestra belting out a montage-accompanying soundtrack as Steve Bould bounds up the steps to the Allianz Arena and starts shadow boxing, while Arsene Wenger delivers a Henry V style speech that sees our players rip off their over-sized headphones and transform into a baying mob of determined lunatics.
Standing in their path, of course, will be the calculating, balanced machine that is this season’s Bayern Munich. While it sometimes seems that there is no weak link in their well-oiled mechanism, our players need to remember that all teams are fallible. Such is the unpredictable beauty of football that the wind of fortune can change in an instant. And for a side like ours, which so often struggles with the pressure of expectation, it may be a refreshing change to have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Believe, my sons, and anything is possible.
* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband Ltd
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