Bayern hammer Arsenal to the brink of elimination
Arsenal’s hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout phase were left hanging by a thread on Wednesday after they were thrashed 5-1 by Bayern Munich.
Bayern’s unbeaten start to the season was ended by a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal a fortnight ago but Pep Guardiola’s side exacted revenge and then some at the Allianz Arena.
Robert Lewandowski headed Bayern into a 10th-minute lead as Arsenal’s attempt to catch the Poland striker offside backfired.
Thomas Mueller added a second just before the half hour as his shot deflected off Per Mertesacker and crept in at Petr Cech’s near post.
David Alaba effectively put the game beyond reach just before the break as the Austrian curled home a third after stealing the ball from Santi Cazorla on the edge of the area.
Substitute Arjen Robben then smashed home an Alaba cutback early in the second half while Olivier Giroud’s acrobatic effort pulled one back for the Gunners.
But Mueller compounded Arsenal’s misery a minute from time to condemn the Gunners to their joint-heaviest European defeat, equalling the 4-0 drubbing at AC Milan in the last 16 of the 2011/12 edition.
A chastening evening for the Londoners was made all the more damaging as Olympiakos recovered from a goal down to beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-1, leaving Arsenal six points behind the Greeks, and Bayern, with two games to play.
This was Arsenal’s joint heaviest away defeat in Europe, equalling the 4-0 drubbing at AC Milan in the last 16 in February 2012.
France striker Olivier Giroud scored Arsenal’s consolation goal with 20 minutes left, but with two games to go, Arsenal have only a mathematical chance of reaching the knock-out phase after Dinamo Zagreb’s 2-1 defeat at Olympiakos.
The Gunners have three points along with Dinamo, while Olympiakos and Bayern both have nine with the Germans top of Group F on goal difference.
It means Arsenal must win their final two matches at home to Zagreb and away to Olympiakos, plus hope Bayern beat the Greek side at the Allianz Arena in a fortnight to progress.
“You have to give credit to Bayern for their quality, but we made life easy for them and we were extremely poor defensively. We weren’t at the races,” admitted Wenger.