Like I said prior to the match on Wednesday evening, I expected Arsenal to lose against the reigning European Champions so wasn’t surprised at the 0-2 score-line (just wish I had put a bet on). However, it was the promising way we begun coupled with the fact Bayern Münich did not deserve the win that made the result particularly difficult for me to take and left a bitter taste in my mouth. For a change, I haven’t been miserable over the past couple of days but that has been replaced by intense anger. The unjust decision to send Wojciech Szczesny off, the constant theatrics from the German side and the heavy criticism of Mesut Özil following the game are just a few of my annoyances.
I’ll start from the beginning so that this post has a bit structure and is not just a rant. The Arsenal, cheered on by a lively crowd who participated in a card display as the team’s entered, came out of the blocks quickly and had Pep Guardiorla’s men on the ropes. Wave after wave of attack culminated in a penalty and Mesut Özil being presented the opportunity to put the home side 1 up. He missed with a dreadful spot-kick (similar to his one against Napoli back in October) but I think the tag of ‘£42.5 Million flop’ is ridiculous and out of order.
What fans and media pundits’ alike need to remember is this season is Mesut Özil’s first in England and some stars need time to adjust. I will point out an Arsenal legend as an example. Dennis Bergkamp didn’t hit the ground running but look what happened next. Patience is the key but in all honesty, the German International has shown his class intermittently so I’m not concerned in the slightest. The 25 year old showed with his sublime Cruyff turn to win the penalty on Wednesday just why he cost so much and is one of the best attacking midfielder’s in the world.
After our miss, Bayern Münich ‘earned’ a penalty when a brilliant ball over the top found Arjen Robben who went down oh so easily after the slightest bit of contact. The Dutchman did make a meal of the foul but it probably was a spot-kick but my complaint is the Szcesny red card, which completely turned the game on it’s head and made victory for The Arsenal an almost impossible mountain to climb. Robben took a poor touch to go around the keeper and Sagna was back to clear it so how it was a clear goal scoring chance I will never know. Özil was hauled down just as he was going to shoot (and have a clear opportunity on goal) so surely that was a sending of too?
Alaba’s penalty miss was far worse than the Mesut Özil one 29 minutes earlier because he failed to hit the target (unforgivable in my eyes) but it didn’t matter in the end. We kept it 0-0 for the seven minutes before the break. However, the ten men were boxed in and soon after the interval, the extra man paid off. The German’s took the lead with a delightful curler from Toni Kroos. Again, we done well to keep Europe’s best out for another 34 minutes but the match and tie was ultimately ended by Müller on the counter-attack in the 88th minute.
When I say ‘no one likes us’ in the title, I do not simply mean everyone’s out to get Arsenal (although it does seem like that in the media). I’m talking about the way that UEFA seem to have a vendetta against English clubs. You’ve only got to watch Manchester City-Barcelona to realise I am speaking sense. That was a similar affair to the match at the Emirates with the exact same outcome. The home sides started well but a shocking decision by the referee saw the balance of play swing and the away teams win 2-0 in both games. The foul at the Etihad was the exact opposite to what happened a day later. The sending off was correct as Demichelis was clearly the last man but the tackle was outside the box and the penalty shouldn’t have stood.
These two recent examples of English teams being the victim of game-changing decisions by UEFA officials are not isolated. Further evidence for this conspiracy include Robin van Persie being dismissed in 2011 for not hearing the whistle in a noisy Camp Nou, when Chelsea had four clear penalty shouts in the 2009 semi-final but none were given and Nani’s red card in Manchester United’s defeat to Real Madrid last year, to name but a few. Coincidence? I think not. I’m on to you Platini!
By Glen Shorey