Arsène Wenger admits Arsenal ‘mentally collapsed’ during Bayern Munich rout
This article titled “Arsène Wenger admits Arsenal ‘mentally collapsed’ during Bayern Munich rout” was written by Daniel Taylor at the Allianz Arena, for The Guardian on Thursday 16th February 2017 00.07 UTC
Arsène Wenger admitted Arsenal’s players had “mentally collapsed” after a 5-1 defeat against Bayern Munich that left one of his former players, Martin Keown, predicting it would precipitate the manager’s departure at the end of the season.
Wenger described Arsenal’s second‑half collapse, including three goals in one 10-minute spell, as “a nightmare” and his press conference lasted only three questions – or two minutes and 58 seconds to be precise – before it became clear that he was not willing to talk any longer about a result that increases the scrutiny on his own position. Barring a miracle, Arsenal will now have gone out at the first knockout stage of the Champions League in each of the past seven seasons, losing their past six first-leg ties all by two goals or more.
Wenger admitted they had been “mentally very jaded” and Keown, in his television role, said he did not expect the Frenchman to stay at the club beyond his current contract, which expires in the summer.
“It was embarrassing,” Keown said. “This is his [Wenger’s] lowest point. He looked particularly wounded. I feel for him – he almost needs to be protected from himself. This is 20 years of work here. He’s been magnificent for the club. This is a massive low point for him.
“This brings forward the change that looks likely at the end of the season. I think it will be him that makes the decision. The realisation that the decision needs to be made is more apparent tonight.”
Arjen Robben had given Bayern an 11th‑minute lead before Alexis Sánchez equalised on the half-hour, scoring from the rebound after Manuel Neuer had saved his penalty.
Arsenal finished the first half strongly but fell apart after Robert Lewandowski restored the home side’s lead eight minutes after the interval. Thiago Alcântara then scored twice in quick succession and the Bayern substitute Thomas Müller completed the rout with the fifth goal in the 88th minute.
“The real problems were after the third goal,” Wenger said. “We lost our organisation and we looked vulnerable from that moment onwards. The last 25 minutes was a nightmare for us. We looked like we had no response. We collapsed.”
Arsenal now need a 4-0 win to progress when the teams meet in London on 7 March and Wenger said he would not use Laurent Koscielny’s injury, with the score at 1-1, as an excuse for his team’s failings. “Overall I must say they [Bayern] are a better team than us,” he said. “They played very well in the second half and we dropped our level. I do not look for excuses.
“If you asked if I would have loved to keep Koscielny on the pitch, I would say yes. But no matter what we say now, it will be turned in a way that’s detrimental to us because we had a very negative result.
“It looked like we lost our organisation. Not only did we lose our centre-back, but we had a combination of mental and organisation problems.”
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