Last-16 exit: Wash, rinse, repeat

Thomas Muller putting the icing on the cake with his 88th minute goal as Bayern Munich ran riot, hammering Arsenal 5-1 at home. Bayern will look to finish the job in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie
Thomas Muller putting the icing on the cake with his 88th minute goal as Bayern Munich ran riot, hammering Arsenal 5-1 at home. Bayern will look to finish the job in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.PHOTO: REUTERS

Bayern crush Arsenal 5-1 to leave the 2nd leg a formality as chatter builds over Wenger calling time

MUNICH • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted his side had "collapsed mentally" in their 5-1 Champions League rout by Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

The under-pressure Frenchman said there were no excuses as the Gunners faced a seventh successive last-16 exit after their latest mauling.

The 5-1 scoreline was also an exact replica of the result when the two sides last met at the Allianz Arena in the same competition on Nov 4, 2015.

"We conceded the second goal and then the most important thing was that we lost Laurent Koscielny (to injury). We collapsed mentally," said Wenger, who will now face fresh calls for his resignation.

His post-match press conference lasted barely five minutes and was cut short after he answered just a few questions.

"I am not looking for excuses. Overall I must say they were a better team than us, they played very well in the second half and we dropped our level," he added.

  • How Twitter reacted

    Former England striker Gary Lineker @GaryLineker

    "Arsenal have completely disintegrated. An utter shambles and rudderless after koscielny went off."

    Ex-Arsenal star Ian Wright @IanWright0

    "We are a ******g shambles."

    Golfer and Gunners fan Ian Poulter @IanJamesPoulter

    "If I could left (lift) those 100lbs dumbbells i would throw them thru that TV... but I'm only strong enough to lift a digestive biscuit."

    Sports website SportsJOE @SportsJOE-UK

    "It's taken Wenger a while, but he's finally got his team playing like Barcelona in Europe."

    Sports website SportsJOE @SportsJOE-UK Former England star Michael Owen @themichaelowen

    "They may now realise that I was right all along. Arsenal are soft and have been for a long time."

"They were better than us, well done to Bayern. Their third goal was a killer - we had no response.

"It is a shock of course to lose at this level."

Arjen Robben opened the scoring after just 11 minutes when the winger beat Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina with a fine strike into the top corner.

Chile international Alexis Sanchez levelled for Arsenal on 30 minutes, but Robert Lewandowski restored the home side's lead after 53 minutes.

Thiago Alcantara then piled on the misery for Wenger's men with a brace and substitute Thomas Muller added a fifth two minutes from time.

Lee Dixon, who played under Wenger for six years, has joined the growing list of former Arsenal players sensing that the Frenchman will call time on his 21-year spell at the club.

"It saddens me to see him like that, I know what a winner he is. I think he realises, he seems so low.

"This team is getting no response from him. I've never seen him like that before," he told ITV Football.

"It's so obvious that they fight for so long and then they lose inspiration. He owes it to himself to change that.

"It is he who will pull the rug from under his own turf. I think he thinks it's time (to go)."

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, and ex-Gunners defender Martin Keown - both of whom Wenger had managed, also expect the 67-year-old to draw the curtains on his career.

The BBC reported yesterday, without citing sources, that Wenger's future will be decided at the end of the season.

However, Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti believes that Wenger has the experience to pull Arsenal out of the mire.

"This is football, Arsene has the experience to manage this result and move forward - this is only one game," said the Italian, who oversaw his 148th European game.

The 57-year-old also hailed the result as Bayern's best performance since he replaced Pep Guardiola as head coach this season.

"It's the best performance since I have been here, but it's not the final, we still have another game - unfortunately," he said.

Ancelotti added that the focus is now on completing the job in the second leg, which would see Bayern knock Arsenal out in the last-16 for the fourth time.

"The result was really important and we have the advantage, but we don't want to make a mistake," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2017, with the headline 'Last-16 exit: Wash, rinse, repeat'. Print Edition | Subscribe