Mental strength missing: Wenger

Thomas Mueller (No. 25) shows balance and ball-control skill to stay on his feet while Arsenal's Nacho Monreal (left) and Gabriel Paulista hit the turf during the Champions League Group F game at Allianz Arena, Munich on Wednesday. Mueller scored a b
Thomas Mueller (No. 25) shows balance and ball-control skill to stay on his feet while Arsenal's Nacho Monreal (left) and Gabriel Paulista hit the turf during the Champions League Group F game at Allianz Arena, Munich on Wednesday. Mueller scored a brace in the 5-1 humiliation of Arsene Wenger's men.PHOTO: REUTERS

Gunners teeter on Champions League brink as team 'unrecognisable' during Bayern rout

LONDON • Arsene Wenger said he did not recognise his team on Wednesday after Arsenal slumped to their worst European defeat to leave their Champions League survival hanging by a thread.

Bayern Munich's 5-1 victory at the Allianz Arena in Munich left the north London football club six points adrift of the top two sides in group F. It means that they must win their final two matches - including victory by a two-goal margin against Olympiakos - to avoid being knocked out in the group stage for the first time in 16 years.

Arsenal must also hope that Olympiakos are beaten by Bayern when they visit the Allianz Arena on Nov 24, as one more point for the Greek club would be enough for them to reach the last 16, a predicament that Wenger conceded reflects very badly on his team.

Thomas Mueller scored twice on Wednesday while Robert Lewandowski, David Alaba and Arjen Robben were also on target as Pep Guardiola's Bayern emphatically avenged their 2-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium a fortnight ago.

This was Arsenal's joint heaviest away defeat in Europe, equalling a 4-0 drubbing at AC Milan in the last 16 in February 2012.

France striker Olivier Giroud scored Arsenal's consolation goal with 20 minutes left.

But, with two games to go, the English club have only a mathematical chance of reaching the knock-out phase after Dinamo Zagreb's 2-1 defeat at Olympiakos.

Wenger was scathing of Arsenal's defensive performance and did not attempt to use the absence of nine players through injury as an excuse.

Laurent Koscielny pulled out with a hip injury on the day of the game, 24 hours after Hector Bellerín had withdrawn with a groin problem.

"Defensively, I didn't recognise my team," Wenger said. "When we went forward we had chances but, with a defensive performance like that, you go nowhere.

"I can't tell you if it's the worst but it will not remain in my memory for anything positive. We made things quite easy for them with our defensive performance. We were extremely poor defensively."

Wenger also criticised his players' mental strength after they folded against a team whom they beat at the Emirates Stadium two weeks ago.

"You know you can't be too negative but we also have to face reality," he said.

"That's top-level sport. You have to be strong enough to face up to your opponents. Our performance was not good enough.

"We have to realise that, with that kind of performance, our chances are at a minimum, but we have a chance to qualify. We have to give it our all. And if Bayern play like they did tonight, they will beat Olympiakos."

Guardiola promised Arsenal that Bayern would do their utmost to beat the Greek side.

"Arsenal have to be calm. Maybe we will not win but be sure that we will fight for it," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2015, with the headline 'MENTAL STRENGTH MISSING: WENGER'. Print Edition | Subscribe