Arsenal’s form of late has been pretty poor, and currently laying outside the top 4 in the English Premier League, some 21 points behind league leaders Manchester United, and even 9 behind second-place Manchester City gives us an idea that his team isn’t as strong as some fans wish to believe.
It was an easy night of football betting to back the runaway leaders of the German Bundesliga. Bayern Munich are a team with a wealth of talent, strength in depth. I have had the pleasure of watching them on a number of occasions this season, giving me a lot of confidence in tipping them.
I was even correct in predicting the biggest threat would come down their right wing, through Thomas Müller and Philipp Lahm. It was Müller’s cross that found its way through to Toni Kroos on 7 minutes who smashed home. Aaron Ramsey had an opportunity to cut the cross out.
Arsenal gifted the visitors their second goal midway through the first half with Per Mertesacker not sticking to Daniel van Buyten on a corner. The big Belgian’s header was parried by Wojciech Szczesny, allowing Müller to double the lead as the only player to react. Arsenal were static.
Manuel Neuer was not forced into a single save in the first half, but the German goalkeeper was at fault when Lukas Podolski was gifted a goal on 55 minutes. The German number 1 started coming for a corner before changing his mind, allowing the ball to bounce inside the 6 yard box and onto the former Bayern forward’s forehead to reduce the deficit.
Bayern Munich had dominated the first half and were deserved leaders. But Arsenal started the better in the second half and began taking the game to the visitors after the goal. On 72 minutes Olivier Giroud found space in the box but wasted a great chance to level the scores by hitting his shot straight at Neuer.
5 minutes later and the tie looked out of sight. Mario Mandzukic brought the ball down outside the penalty area before laying it off to Arjen Robben. The Dutch forward sucked Thomas Vermaelen inside and then played the played through an overlapping Philipp Lahm. This low cross into the six yard box was bundled over the line by Mandzukic.
As I thought may be a problem for Arsenal as highlighted in my previews, left back Thomas Vermaelen was sucked inside and generally doing a poor job of covering the wing. Of course, Bayern Munich’s movement up front is fantastic in drawing players out of position. Their tactics worked and Arsene Wenger’s side couldn’t deal with them.
Bayern Munich were the bookmakers’ third favourites for the Champions League heading into this round. I actually had them down as second favourites prior to Real Madrid’s draw with Manchester United last week.
Arsene Wenger now has the task of making sure his side finish in the top 4 and qualify for next season’s Champions League. They are currently 4 points behind Tottenham Hotspur who occupy that final spot. Their only distraction is the second leg in Munich; their final cup game of the season barring a miracle.
Bundesliga -> Premier League
German Bundesliga sides have dominated English Premier League side’s in the Champions League this season, winning 3 and drawing 2:
Manchester City 1-1 Borussia Dortmund
Arsenal 0-2 Schalke 04
Schalke 04 2-2 Arsenal
Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Manchester City
Arsenal 1-3 Bayern Munich