Arsene Wenger’s 20 years in charge of Arsenal could be on the brink of coming to an end after a humiliating 5-1 defeat (10-2 on aggregate) to Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium.
Pre-match protests against the Arsenal boss was in full force outside the ground as a large gathering of fans expressed their desire to see the Frenchman step down from his helm.
The Gunners were eliminated at the first stage of the knockout rounds for the seventh consecutive season following a disastrous second-half display, which was lacking any sort of leadership, defensive discipline and structure as the predatory German champions tore them to shreds.
The hosts were playing for pride having conceded defeat before the second leg began, with the unlikely task of overturning a 5-1 defeat from the first leg seemingly inconceivable.
The Gunners started brightly but ended dejected.
They opened the scoring in the 20th minute through Theo Walcott and could have doubled their lead but were denied a strong penalty claim by referee Anastasios Sidiropoulos.
The Greek referee was officiating his first Champions League knockout stages game, and it is fair to say that it could be his last.
He was involved in more controversy as the game wore on, as the majority of his decisions went against the Gunners to the despair of the Arsenal boss under pressure.
Bayern equalized in the 55th minute after Laurent Koscielny conceded a penalty, which also saw the French defender sent off.
He was initially shown a yellow card for a foul on Robert Lewandowski in the area, but Sidiropoulos changed his decision after having more time to think about the incident.
Lewandowski dispatched the penalty sending David Ospina the wrong way.
Understandably Wenger was furious by the sudden change of heart by the official as you could see the pressure piling on the longstanding Arsenal head coach.
Speaking of the incident to BT Sport after the game, he said:
“Lewandowski is offside, it’s not a penalty and then on top of that he gives a yellow card and on top of that he gives a red card. I’m absolutely revolted and sorry for the people who paid a lot of money to watch this game.”
Following the equalizer and the sending off, Arsenal looked down and out as they lost their shape, discipline and ambition to stay in the tie.
“Down to 10 men you have to score four goals. It becomes impossible in the head of the players.”
Bayern took full advantage of the situation and pounced on Arsenal’s defensive frailties.
Despite Arsenal’s disadvantage of being a man down and the clear distance between the two sides, the Gunners stuck to the classic Wenger tactics of playing possession football whilst piling men forward, also known as the ‘Arsenal way’.
Passing out from the back fell kindly at the hands of Bayern who are a team more than capable of pressing from the front and punishing mistakes.
The hosts gifted Bayern opportunities to deepen the wounds and they did so with no remorse.
Arjen Robben continued his fine goal-scoring record against Arsenal by picking the ball off Sanchez and calmly slotted past Ospina, before Douglas Costa made it 3-1 with a fine counter attacking goal.
Arturo Vidal finished the rout with a late double, first with an audacious chip before tapping in from close range.
Worst defeat by an English side
The 10-2 aggregate defeat is the worst suffered by an English side in the Champions League and it was Arsenal’s biggest home loss at the Emirates Stadium.
Written by Conor Lee
Follow Conor on Twitter @cmlivesports
Check out more of his writing via his excellent blog, Live Sports Reports
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