Bayern Munich v Arsenal - Player Ratings

Last updated : 23 February 2005 By Mike Bohndiek
This game was one of pure, simple tactics from Bayern Munich. All they did was press us high up the field and by doing so stifled any sort of attack. Add that to that fact that our defence was a total shambles and they were clinical in front of goal and you have a very clear explanation fro that result. We never posed any threat to their goal and were extremely lucky to get that away goal. That may just have kept us in it, and we now require a 2-0 win to progress. For the second time in a week I am forced to call into question the tactics that Wenger used. When I saw that line up and the 4-4-1-1 formation I thought "Excellent, our strongest midfield and Jose playing the floating role, which he did to good effect against Sheffield United" However, it was Freddie in the floating role, Pires on the right and Reyes on the left. Just what is going on here? It is clear for all to see that Pires is not happy playing on the right for us, and that Freddie is far more effective coming in from the right than starting off in the middle. Our first half display was a horror show. Defensive errors combined with lacklustre passing meant we never looked like getting level. Having had a bright (ish) start to the second half we reverted back and played some of the worse football I have seen us play in a long time. We should be counting ourselves lucky that we are only the two down after that.

What concerns me now is that Bayern will undoubtedly employ the same tactics at Highbury. Can we break that sort of resolute defending and get two goals as well as keep a clean sheet? That remains to be seen.

Credit must go to the travelling Gooners. Not only were they witnessing that performance, they were also in freezing conditions. Yet their voices could be heard all night, and some even after the stadium had emptied. Well played!

Key Incidents:

Goal (Bayern Munich) (4) – I can't quite put my finger on what went wrong here. Toure seemed to be right under a long kick from Kahn, yet he some how lost the flight of the ball and ended up sending it backwards into the path of Pizarro, who slammed the ball home with a great technical finish. I don't think we ever truly recovered from this. Sure, we had some long spells of passing, but they weren't going anywhere. This goal was the hammer blow that set us up for the rest of the game.

Goal (Bayern Munich) (57) – Again this goal has to go down as a big mistake by Kolo. There was yet another defensive error as Clichy gave away a stupid free kick on the wing. As the ball was played in Kolo allowed his man to beat him to the ball with some ease and nod the ball past a helpless Lehmann.

Goal (Bayern Munich) (65) – Can you see a theme emerging? Toure was well out of position on the right side tracking a man that Lauren could have covered. Toure was well beaten and the ball was allowed to come in. Having just evaded the out stretched fingertips of Lehmann it left Salihamidzic with the goal gaping and he had no problem in putting this away.

Goal (Arsenal) (87) – Lifeline! This was the first time we had threatened in over 35 minutes, but thanks to some defending from Munich which mirrored ours, we were able to bundle it home. The free kick came in, and after a deflection found Vieira all alone on the far side of the area. His shot clipped the inside of the post and bounced out, but as Signal slipped Toure was able to get in and give us the hope that we sorely needed.

Man Of The Match – Pascal Cygan

Player Ratings

Jens Lehmann - 6.5 - Can't blame him for the first two goals. He also made a fine save to deny Makaay, and another great diving save at the feet of a Munich striker. Maybe could have done a little more on the third, but overall he was one of the most consistent players on the pitch.

Gael Clichy - 6.5 - Gave us a good display, but gave away a few silly free kicks, one of which led to their second.

Pascal Cygan - 7 - He was our best player for me. He neutralised the threat of Makaay superbly well. You couldn't fault his display. His heading was good, his passing was better than usual and his defending was some of the best that I have seen from him.

Kolo Toure - 4.5 - This is the lowest mark I have ever given, and I hate having to give it, but having seen Kolo turn in his worst ever display in an Arsenal shirt I am left little choice. Things started off terribly for him as his error handed Bayern the early advantage. I don't know whether this rattled him or if it was something to do with the conditions, but he just lost his nerve. He didn't look like winning the ball, and was always second to it. His positioning was all over the place and he failed to keep Pizarro quiet. He looks a shadow of the player that he does when Sol is about, and even a late goal can't save him from that kind of a shocking performance.

Lauren - 6 - Got caught out a few times, and was lucky to stay on the field after a two footed lunge. However, his attacking was far better as he found acres of space on the right. The only trouble being that he was being ignored as we spread the ball the other way to Jose and Thierry.

Jose Reyes - 6 - Yet again I'm afraid to say he has a disappointing game. His runs frequently ended up with us losing the ball, and his passes were generally over hit or played with too much pace on so that the receiving player had no chance of taking the ball in.

Patrick Vieira - 5.5 - He had another one of his ten minute games. After the introduction of Flamini he looked an improved player and up to half time he was helping us start to get into the match. However, he didn't carry this into the second half. He became sloppy in both his tackling and distribution. I lost count of the occasions where a simple challenge would have won us the ball, but he wasn't willing to do this. By the 70th minute he seemed to have totally given up which is just not acceptable from an Arsenal captain. The worse example came in injury time. We had players flowing forward and he was in our half. He sent an awful pass which was easily intercepted and then didn't even bother to track back. Not a good display.

Edu - 6 - Was clearly not fully fit from the word go. He seemed to be a few seconds behind the pace of the game and he was rightly replaced.

Robert Pires - 6 - As always, he didn't adapt well to playing on the right for us. Just because it is his national team position does not mean that he is comfortable playing there.

Freddie Ljungberg - 6 - I feel quite sorry for Freddie, being played out of position. He is not at his most effective in this position and never looked like penetrating a tough Bayern back line.

Thierry Henry - 6 - His critics shall be out in force again tomorrow, and to be fair to them he gave them some ammunition tonight. All this stuff about him "not turning up" for big games is utter rubbish, but when you give a performance like that in such a big game, questions are going to be asked. He rarely featured in this game.


Mathieu Flamini - 6.5 - He seemed to add some strength to the midfield. However, this was short lived and Bayern ran the game for the second half.

Robin Van Persie – N/A -Not enough time to rate him.

Ashley Cole – N/A - Not enough time to rate him.