Last night’s match at the Allianz Arena felt like such a formality. Alright, Bayern, just cross the Ts and dot the Is on your win and be gone, you’re boring now. Most of the supporters who’d travelled there were going largely, I’m sure, for the beer and the sausages, and who could blame them? In spite of the fact a 1-3 loss from the first leg looked technically like a smaller hill to climb than the 4-0 drubbing by Milan at the same point in the competition last year, given the fact the Allianz Arena is essentially a fortress where dragons go to die, I don’t think anyone held out any hope of coming away with a win.
I told myself I’d turn off the telly at 0-2 down. Obviously I wouldn’t have, and the same me who crumbled at 7.42pm GMT and legged it upstairs to put my Arsenal shirt on would have stayed there in front of the screen until the grim death, holding my poor, useless, beaten man’s hand as he coughed up blood while angry-sounding men danced all around him.
Just don’t get embarrassed. Please don’t get embarrassed. Maybe we’d all fallen for all the sick-making statty Bayernathon that took place in all its technicolour pukey pukey pukey glory both before and after the first leg, but I really felt this match was a case of the Year 6s going up against the University’s first XI. With Jack out and Szczesny seemingly dropped, more and more people were telling us Wenger was resting his big players, which was annoying. Understandable, given our chances, but why were we intentionally reducing the bony-arsed chance we did have by playing the reserves?
Well, it turned out we weren’t, because Arsene Wenger was back in the building. Iain Macintosh pointed out to Arseblog that had Mr. W been Mr. M, he’d probably have been given more credit. Unfortunately, it’s the in thing to batter the rangy Frenchman these days, so any praise afterwards will certainly have been given begrudgingly.
Anyway, the stronger XI started with Fabianski’s replacement of Szczesny the only real unforced change to what would probably be considered our best XI. Vermaelen may be captain of his team and Lord of my heart, but his performances of late have not been those of a man with the right to automatically start. Another gamble was probably putting Gibbs in having just returned from injury, and not quite fully 100% fit.
When the clock hit minute two, I thought “Well phew, at least the match report won’t at any point say (1″ Robben). Then, “Well phew, at least the match report won’t at any point say (2″ Kroos). Then “Well phew, at least the match report won’t at any GAAAHHH OH MY GOD GIROUD GIROUD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD!!!” He’d got himself in front of goal and after some sexy work by Rosicky and Ramsey, had got his foot on the end of a Theo cross/shot. As Gunnerblog noted immediately after, whatever happened, he needed that goal. But NO. NO, we must not hope. Hope is the harshest bitch in the world. She will rob your heart and empty your wallet. NEVER AT ANY POINT SUCCUMB TO HOPE. But then a few minutes passed without the traditional equaliser, and the little bitch started to get under our skin. No, not Muller, the WHINGIEST MAN IN THE WORLD (except Giroud), but hope. Bastarding bitchface hope.
Time ticked by, and our touch was off. So off, that at one point when yet another pass just went straight off the pitch, I shouted “JESUS IT’S NOT BEEN THIS BAD SINCE BRADFORD.” Bayern’s attempts outnumbered ours by quite a shocking amount, but Fabianski, man. Fab. I. An. Ski. FABULANSKI, MORE LIKE. So assured! So composed! So catchy! When you consider he spent the minutes before the beginning of the first leg outside the stadium chatting to his mate Will, it goes to show just how quickly things can change in this here world of football.
We did have a couple of opportunities, no one being on the end of another Theo cross around the thirty minute mark. By this stage the stadium was absolutely dead, unless all those notoriously incredible German fans were all cheering for Giroud and Cazorla throughout. The atmosphere felt a bit Camp Nouy really, or maybe a bit Highbury-when-we-were-goodish. They were stunned they were losing. I don’t believe all the people who reckon they were crapping themselves, because they still had a two goal cushion – it seemed to me they were more a little pissed off their team of machines were losing to these yahoos.
Speaking of which, in the second half Robben got a lot more into the game, and a lot more annoying. What you wearing tights for, you fool. Get up. Rosicky was given a yellow card for a foul on him, really he should have been given a biscuit. Mertesacker was also later booked for being ran into by Robben. Per should get an iced bun. Bayern had plenty of speculative shots from long range, presumably because we were defending pretty tightly for a change. Giroud also had his matchly Hollywood shot. No, babes. No
After a very clever little pass from (someone in red?), Robben found himself basically one on one with Fabianski, but was confronted by a Finnish-Polish-English hybrid on his way to goal. Behold: JENKIANSKI. A super save from the Pole in Goal was aided by an onrushing Jenkinson who had nothing on his mind but ruining Tights Boy’s day.
Gervinho was brought on for one final attempt at scoring, and SO NEARLY did it. Cazorla passed, Gerv swerved like only a Gerv can, and his attempt went just wide. WHY WAS NO ONE THERE. Heartbreakingly, the nearest player to getting on the end of it was probably Jenkinson. If he’d have scored then, I think Hollywood would have packed up and gone home.
Our second goal was scored by another Tours Old Boy, when Koscielny headed in Cazorla’s corner. A battle then ensued when Manuel Neuer decided he wanted a cuddle with the ball for a while. I think we all knew it was too late, but nevertheless what a wonderful time for a goal.
Three minutes added on and then we were out. When all’s said and done, we’re still out, but what a performance when a performance was needed. Everyone knows it’ll mean nothing if they don’t carry it on into the remaining ten fixtures of the season, but when you’ve known this team as long as us, let’s not hold our breaths. But see what you’re capable of?! Do that again. Just do exactly that! So simple. So, so simple.
Jenkinson, Gibbs, and Fabianski were stand-out. Fabianski hadn’t played a match for us since February 2012. That’s ridiculous. An Almunia-esque renaissance against the big boys. Jenkinson just proves that if you just bloody well try, you can do most things. In addition to his performance on the pitch, his dismissal of Geoff Shreevesafterwards was just beautiful. An outstanding human, I’m sure you’ll agree. Oh, and here is my photo of the night (from Tumblr).
Rambo and Gibbs <3
So we bow out gracefully once again. Ugh. Still, it’s one in the eye to the reams and reams of articles by randoms hailing Bayern the best thing in the whole world. As well as Podolski having become the first to score against them in 600 or so minutes in the first round, we kept our sheet clean against them and became the first to do so in donkeys’ years. When push came to shove, they were whingy little Winnies and their fans were pants… hey, they really are a big team! One of these days we’ll do a result like that and it will send us through to the next round. Maybe next year. Third time lucky.
Best Team In The Whole World 3 – 3 Arsenal
(on some shit outdated rule from back when teams used to row there, Bayern go through.)