Arsenal surrender leaves Sanchez to fight a losing battleby Rohan Toure 15/02/2017 18:23:00 0 comments 1 Views
By Ian Ladyman for the Daily Mail
Published: 16:56 EST, 15 February 2017 | Updated: 18:23 EST, 15 February 2017
There have been moments this season when Alexis Sanchez has allowed his frustration at what he clearly sees as a lack of progress at Arsenal to overwhelm him. At times, as Arsenal's campaign has followed a predictable pattern, Sanchez has worn his upset face like a fancy dress mask.
Not so here at the Allianz Arena. Here, as Arsenal were undressed by Bayern Munich, Sanchez left the exaggerated displays of emotion at home. There are times when things are so hopeless that it's no use complaining and this was one of them.
So Sanchez did all that he could. He ran himself in to the ground, he chased lost causes, he tried to expose the lack of pace of Bayern central defender Mats Hummels. He even scored a goal.
Alexis Sanchez was unable to prevent Arsenal from heading for Champions League elimination
Sanchez trudges off at the full-time whistle after Bayern Munich thrashed Arsenal 5-1
The former Barcelona forward chased every lost caused but his efforts were in vain in Bavaria
Sanchez kept his frustrations in check until the game was up late into the second half
But it was nowhere near enough and it was never going to be. So when the final Bayern goal flew past David Ospina in the 89th minute, he simply sank to his haunches on the halfway line and stared at the turf.
Sanchez, we should note, has played at Barcelona. Before he joined Arsenal in 2014, he was courted by Manchester City and Liverpool. So he knows what quality is. He knows what potential is and what progress is and what he is part of in north London at the moment is none of this.
This Arsenal team are not credible at this level and Sanchez knows it. Hence the new contract at the Emirates remains unsigned.
At 28 years old, he is in the prime of his career and the next move he makes may well define him. He has won league titles and cups in his career but only one of note in his time in England. After this bludgeoning in Bavaria, it is hard to think how his manager Arsene Wenger even begins to construct an argument to persuade him to stay.
Thiago was the standout player as he scored twice to give Bayern Munich victory over Arsenal
Bayern are on the brink of knocking Arsenal out of Europe again after a one-side first leg
Lewandowski made amends for earlier conceding a penalty as the striker put Bayern in front
On Wednesday night, Sanchez was a man alone in terms of application. The Chilean looked as though he believed he could win his individual contest with Hummels. Nobody else on the visiting team looked as though they even considered being able to do likewise.
Arjen Robben humiliated poor Kieran Gibbs and Robert Lewandowski did the same to Shkdoran Mustafi. In the centre of midfield, the magnificent Thiago Alcantara played as though Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka were not even there. Mesut Ozil? Let us not even begin. From the German, this was another white handkerchief performance.
So this tie is over, the second leg an irrelevance. Arsenal's FA Cup tie at Sutton next Monday now stands out as the most important game on their calendar. The only surprise was that it took Bayern until ten electric minutes at the start of the second half to put Wenger's team away.
Here, Arsenal were everything we hoped they would not be. Passive, submissive and regressive, Wenger's team spent the opening spell of the game permanently on the retreat. Only an equalising penalty out of the blue after half an hour offered them any hope at all and by full-time even that was almost a footnote.
Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain know Champions League hopes hang by a thread
Alex Sanchez was rewarded for perseverance as Arsenal went into the break level at Bayern
Bayern Munich took an early lead thanks to Arjen Robben's curled finish in from the right
Robben is congratulated after his trademark finish in off the underside of the crossbar
Certainly this was not the type of game that Wenger must have envisaged when the doors to the Emirates Stadium were opened to him in 2006.
Arsenal's move to a new home was supposed to signal the start of a new life, a time that would see Wenger lead the club in to battle with clubs like Bayern on an equal footing.
Here, though, Arsenal played as though they felt they didn't belong. This resembled one of those awful heavyweight boxing matches when one bloke just turns up for the money. It's okay to play away from home in Europe with a pragmatic view. It's better than being too open.
Here, though, Arsenal were far too supine and accommodating and in the end it brought them exactly what they deserved.
Shkodran Mustafi tries to rouse the troops after the side conceded an early goal in Bavaria
The Gunners were handed a route back after Laurent Koscielny was fouled inside the box
Sanchez had his penalty saved by Manuel Neuer and he even scuffed his inital rebound
The Chilean kept his composure to keep his third attempt low as Arsenal made it 1-1 in Munich
Sanchez drops to his knees after witnessing the side cut to ribbons in the second period
Robben was recognisable throughout. His trademark move – cutting in on to his favourite left foot from the right side – was in evidence and brought him the first goal.
On social media and in the stadium, people asked why Arsenal hadn't seen it coming. They had. They just couldn't stop it. There is a key difference and as Bayern went on to increase their tempo to rapier setting in the second half it was a pattern that was set to repeat.
If Bayern had been superior in the first half, after the break the chasm between the teams yawned. Bayern scored three goals and also hit the bar without seeming to blink. Arsenal had no answer and one suspects, deep down, Sanchez feared it would be this way.
As he left the field at the end, the Arsenal forward looked up to his team's fans high above one goal. There was no gesture. Sometimes there really is no point.