Bayern Munich 1-0 Arsenal: Inability to rise to the occasion means yet another missed opportunity after Champions League defeat

Arsenal go out of the Champions League, without ever having really been in this game. That is maybe the greatest lament from a 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich that has knocked them out of Europe, and left the grim prospect of this once promising season just proving to be another that goes unfulfilled.

Arsenal simply didn’t rise to this.

They couldn’t get anywhere near the emphatic force of Joshua Kimmich’s thunderous winning header that made it 3-2 on aggregate. Mikel Arteta now has even more to figure it out, all the more so since they barely gave Bayern anything to think about. The manager rubbed his eyes in anguish after sending on Eddie Nketiah, but it had the feel of going through the motions rather than actually making anything happen.

It wasn’t all about Arsenal of course. Bayern displayed their old qualities in a vintage sense, of the class we used to see in the Champions League much more. Thomas Tuchel did a number on Arteta as his players also showed the value of so many seasons in the competition. That will be the narrative, and it is difficult to disagree.

It might also be harder to doubt Bayern’s ability to win this competition, even if there is still the feeling these are the last throes of an era. That was what should only add to Arsenal’s frustration. This was one of Bayern’s weakest teams in years. They were there for the taking, but Arsenal never seized anything. There was almost an inferiority complex.

It wasn’t the best game for owner Stan Kroenke to attend after so much time away. There was no great show, no grand last attack. It was hard not to link that back to the “controlled” manner they started the game.

Or, in other words, they were initially very conservative. They were much more interested in keeping shape rather than getting on the ball. It was hard to know what the greater reason for this was. Was it tactical, and down to how Bayern shredded those open spaces behind in the first leg? Or, was it because confidence had been affected by both that 2-2 and the 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa.

It did make things more awkward for Bayern. Since they didn’t have that same space to run into, they almost didn’t know what to do. It led to a few needless individual errors, like Kimmich just giving the ball away and Matthijs de Ligt almost controlling the ball out of play.

Another missed opportunity for the Gunners (Getty Images)

They weren’t as focused going forward, as Raphael Guerreiro flashing one ball across goal, but they were otherwise dependent on set-pieces. Leon Goretzka did hit the crossbar from a header, with Kimmich then smashing the loose ball at David Raya.

Arsenal did start to at least someway step out against this, and it led to Gabriel Martinelli being afforded the best chance of the first half. In space and in the area with the ball dropping, he hit it first time into Manuel Neuer’s arms. It was never enough, though. It was like they were caught between two mindsets.

That allowed Bayern to strike. In the more open spaces of the midfield, Konrad Laimer began to stride forward. The ball was worked out to Guerreiro, who had been one of the most active players in this game. He this time evaded a completely stranded Ben White before clipping a fine cross into the centre. It was nicely teed up, but Kimmich had better ideas. He powered a fulminating header into the roof of Raya’s net.

Kimmich’s header sent Bayern through and Arsenal out (Getty Images)

Arsenal now had to respond. They had to rouse themselves. An immediate problem was they seemed too wedded to a controlled approach.

Some abandon was called for, but not at the back, which was what happened. Bayern started to really cut through them on the wings, leading to panicked clearances.

There just wasn’t enough of that at the other end.

Bayern were never really put under any pressure. It was telling that there was barely a major chance after the Kimmich goal. Arteta complained when the clock went up for a mere four minutes of injury time, but what were they going to do? As in the first leg, Bayern so easily kept them at arm’s length. That might be fatigue. That might be inexperience. That might be a lack of ideas. Whatever it is, it’s elimination.

Bayern can start to think of winning this competition, and maybe even giving Harry Kane that moment at Wembley. Arsenal have to think of how they lost this so meekly.

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