Bayern Munich are arguably the best team in Europe at the moment, and have been scoring for fun against whoever is put up against them. That was until they came up against us however, with late Olivier Giroud and Mesut Özil goals sealing the 2-0 win for our boys.
It was as you were after the win against Watford on the weekend, with Arsene Wenger opting not to rest anyone. It was arguably our best XI, with the only real absence being Gabriel Paulista.
It was a fast start from the visitors, and before we were really settled their in form forward Robert Lewandowski looked to punish us. Hector Bellerin got back and put an excellent challenge in though, and we looked to get ourselves organised.
Despite Arsenal known for our possession football, everyone knew Bayern were going to enjoy the majority of the ball. We were defensively solid though, and were preventing any real chances. Indeed, it was us that had the best chance of the opening exchanges, with Alexis Sanchez setting up Mesut Özil on the edge of the box. The German attempted to place the ball into the far corner, but Manuel Neuer pushed it around the post – with Phillip Lahm putting in a tackle to prevent Theo Walcott from putting it back into the box.
We were uncharacteristically playing with two very rigid banks of four, looking to remain disciplined and keep Bayern at bay. Some great movement from Thomas Muller and Thiago Alcantara took us apart though, with the former Barcelona star breaking through our lines after a neat one-two and smashing a shot goalwards. Petr Cech was up to the challenge though, and made the first of what what prove to be many fantastic saves.
We sat back and looked to hit on the counter, and there were a few half chances thrown our way. Alexis Sanchez probably should have done better with when the ball fell to him during a corner, but the Chilean somehow smashed it over the bar with nobody near him.
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We then got unquestionably the best chance of the game, and the ball looked certain to end up in the back of the net. Nacho Monreal found Walcott in the box was a fantastic cross, and the pacy forward stooped to head it in from close range. Neuer somehow made an inhuman save to deny him though, reaching full stretch and keeping a strong wrist to palm it away. Aaron Ramsey looked to pounce on the rebound, but could only knock it wide.
The Welshman was unfortunately forced off early in the second half, limping off with what looked like a hamstring injury. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced him, and did an excellent job in doing so.
We’d enjoyed a fantastic spell at the end of the first half, but were really struggling to get on the ball in the second. We looked certain to go behind when Lewandowski was put through on goal after good work from Douglas Costa, but the combination of a last ditch tackle from Laurent Koscielny and an excellent save from Cech kept things level.
Olivier Giroud was brought on for Walcott, and moments later we were in the lead. The Frenchman earned a free-kick some way out, and then managed to convert from the following set-piece. Santi Cazorla whipped a cross into the box, and with Neuer racing out and misjudging the flight of the ball, it smashed into Giroud’s face, off his hand, and into the back of the net. 1-0.
Giroud should have doubled his and our lead shortly after, with a free header from close range during a corner. He didn’t get a good connection though, and knocked it straight down for Neuer to gather easily.
Bayern threatened to break our hearts late on, but Koscielny got back to put some excellent pressure on the Polish forward.
We sealed the win in the dying minutes of the game though, with Mesut Özil getting the all important second.
Bellerin made a great tackle in midfield to set up an attack, and showed a phenomenal burst of speed in the 93rd minute (how was that kid not exhausted?) to leave David Alaba in the dust. He lashed the ball across the box for an onrushing Özil, who looked to have a relatively simple tap in.
Neuer appeared to make yet another impossible save, and the Ox somehow hit over the bar from the rebound. Thankfully the fifth official piped up, with replays showing that Özil’s shot was well over the line. 2-0.
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That was pretty much the end, and we saw the game out for the win. We’ve still got an uphill battle, but it was a phenomenal victory which keeps our Champions League dreams alive a little longer.