Arsenal’s annual Champions League exit appears imminent following a chastening night in Bavaria, with a hamstring issue for popular Fantasy asset Laurent Koscielny merely compounding the misery.
Bayern Munich 5 Arsenal 1
An injury to defender Laurent Koscielny prompted a second-half capitulation of epic proportions as Arsenal were blown away by Bayern.
Alexis Sanchez had earlier given the Gunners huge hope that they could take the tie back to The Emirates with all still to play for when he finished with aplomb when his initial effort from the spot was saved.
But once Koscielny departed with a hamstring problem early in the second half, Arsenal’s resolve dissolved and three goals in ten chaotic minutes quickly followed.
The Frenchman has started all bar the first match of the season in the league for the Gunners. They conceded four that day β their worst defensive performance of the campaign until last night’s debacle.
The only crumb of comfort for the 16.9% of managers who own the centre-half is that he has until March 4 to recover as Arsenal will sit out Gameweek 26 because of Southampton’s involvement in the EFL Cup final. Those who were contemplating selling him, due to that blank and a Gameweek 27 trip to Liverpool, may well have had their minds made up by this latest set-back.
Kieran Gibbs β at 4.7 a cheap way into the Arsenal defence – was given back-to-back starts for the first time this season.
But Arsenal’s left side proved to be a rich source of attacking joy for Bayern all night and it would be no surprise if Nacho Monreal is returned to the starting XI in the league, if not for Monday’s FA Cup tie at Sutton.
Two regular midfielders, Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi, also failed to impress.
The 6.5%-owned Ozil has just three assists and no goals since Gameweek 15, while Iwobi (3.2%) has started the last nine league matches, providing two goals and a pair of assists.
Beleaguered manager Arsene Wenger has options in midfield and Iwobi, in particular, looks vulnerable either to a like-for like swap with Theo Walcott or a re-jig involving Sanchez moving back from his successful stint up front.
Arsenal’s post-Gameweek 27 schedule is generally a favourable one all the way through to the very end of April. But only the ever-reliable Sanchez currently inspires confidence in a team whose limitations were otherwise exposed by a ruthless Bayern.
The second leg with Bayern sits three days after the Gameweeek 27 trip to Anfield, although it’s surely unlikely that Wenger will allow that to influence his teamsheet and approach for the Liverpool clash.
Arsenal XI: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny (Gabriel 49), Gibbs, Xhaka, Coquelin (Giroud 77), Iwobi (Walcott 66), Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez.
Subs not used: Cech, Monreal, Welbeck, Elneny.