Champions’ League: Bayern Munich 3 – Arsenal 1

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
February 23rd, 2005 • 6:09 am

This was definitely one of the worst Arsenal performances in recent memory. The Gunners simply failed to create anything, and were really fortunate to get that away goal near the end. Still, it only barely keeps them alive in the tie. They now need to score at least twice at Highbury in 14 days and not concede a single goal — which, based on yesterday’s performance and on recent results in domestic competition, is not very likely.

Except for one save in the second half, Lehmann was unimpressive once again and was really useless on the first goal, where he might as well not have been there at all. The goal was Touré’s fault — but at least he redeemed himself by scoring the one goal for his team late in the second half.

Oliver Kahn didn’t have a great night either. He is probably partly to blame on the Arsenal goal — and would have conceded a penalty late in the game if Thierry Henry hadn’t been off-side. But really, who cares about Lehmann and Kahn. They are probably both undeserving of their national team position at this point. I don’t know enough about German football to have an idea of who would be the best keeper for that country, but it doesn’t look to me like it should be either Kahn or Lehmann.

As an Arsenal fan, I have to say that, unless Lehmann does something extraordinary to redeem himself between now and the end of the season — like stopping a penalty or actually having a string of great saves — he has to be replaced (and not by Almunia, obviously). Whether Wenger will have the guts and the honesty to do this remains to be seen.

Still, the rest of the team shares a good part of the blame in this particular performance. Nobody had a decent game, and most of Arsenal’s attacking force was hugely ineffective. There’s simply no way that this team can win the Champions’ League. Thierry Henry still appears unable to rise to the occasion, Reyes is still too inexperienced and too selfish, Vieira does not have the commanding and inspiring presence that a captain should have, Ljungberg does not do much, etc.

It is really very disappointing. I really do want stylish, elegant football to succeed at the international level, but it simply doesn’t look like it is ever going to happen. We need some kind of unique combination of panache and guts, and it seems that this Arsenal team simply don’t have enough of the latter. Will Wenger be able to add such a dimension to the team through player acquisitions in the summer?

6 Responses to “Champions’ League: Bayern Munich 3 – Arsenal 1”

  1. Warren Beck says:

    Perhaps Arsène Wenger could purchase the rights to Tim Howard from Manchester United. He’s an excellent keeper; if memory serves, he was the best rated keeper in the EPL last season, but for some reason Sir Alex Ferguson has had him sitting on the bench this year. I’ll wager that Howard’s contract can be had cheaply.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    If I remember correctly, he had a few blunders of his own, including one in the Champions’ League last year, and a couple early this season that led Ferguson to bench him.

    Anyway, I am not sure that, psychologically (for the player, for the team, for the fans), purchasing Tim Howard would be the solution for Arsenal :). They need to do like Chelsea and find a great goal-keeper somewhere else in Europe — or give Stuart Taylor a decent chance to prove himself.

  3. vaag says:

    Did you notice that Vieira kept his gloves on when he shook hands with the referee and with his opponent at the end of the toss? Very, very impolite! Do you need more proof that Wenger’s caliber as a manager is just mediocre?

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    I am not in the business of trying to find “proof” that a manager who has won the EPL three times in the past seven years is a “mediocre” manager. And if a player’s politeness is a measure of how good the manager is, then Rooney’s constant swearing at referees is “proof” that Alex Ferguson is a very lousy manager indeed.

  5. vaag says:

    So then we can agree: Wenger is a lousy manager too. And to your first point: the EPL doesn’t count, its the Champions’ League that matters.

  6. LoonyPandora says:

    I think Wenger is a pretty decent manager myself. He has strengths and weaknesses like everyone. He can turn kids into first team regulars (Cesc, Flamini, Cole), mediocre players into very good ones (Toure, Ljundberg, and to some extent Henry), and build a team greater than the sum of it’s parts.

    He is unfortunate to manage in the EPL with Ferguson, and now with Mourinho too.

    It is a difficult task for both Arsenal and Man Utd to replace the great goalkeepers they have had in the past. It’s important to pick one, and stick with them IMO. Howard is still good enough to be at Man Utd, his downturn in form coincided with Rio Ferdinand’s ban… I think the two are related.

    Lots of great managers, and great players have never won the Champions League. It doesn’t belittle their other achievements.

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