Top five talking points: Bayern Munich 5-1 Arsenal
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) November 5, 2015
1. Is Arsene Wenger focusing on the Premier League?
Hector Bellerin recently picked up a minor groin problem and Wenger did not risk the Spaniard. The full-back did not even travel to Munich to increase his slim chances of featuring in the north London derby.
Laurent Koscielny did travel and probably expected to start, but the French defender had a minor hip problem so he was not risked either. Koscielny’s case was the most interesting one because he did not even warm up with the rest of the matchday squad.
On the bench he wore a long zip-up jacket unlike the other substitutes who had tracksuits on. It seemed the Gunners boss included him on the bench as a substitute in name only.
It is easy to understand Wenger’s pragmatism because getting a result at Bayern was always going to be difficult for Arsenal. They had more than 10 players out injured, which robbed the Gunners of the pace necessary to hurt the Bavarian giants on the break.
2. Bayern sent a warning to the rest of Europe with a high quality display
Arsenal’s problems aside, this display from Bayern would have caused huge problems to any European side. Their sharp movement and speed of thought were typified by Robert Lewandowski’s goal, when he took advantage of Gabriel Paulista’s slight delay in pushing up with the rest of the team to play the offside trap.
It required Thiago Alcantara to spot that from the middle-third and dink a perfectly weighted pass at the precise time, as well.
Bayern’s selfless off-the-ball movement to create spaces for others showed impressive team work. Their ability to slow the tempo of play to walking pace in the middle-third, then shift through the gears in the offensive-third was just sublime.
It is still early in the competition, but the genuine contenders like Barcelona, PSG and Real Madrid cannot afford ignore to this massive statement of intent in what was supposed to be a tight game.
3. Arsenal failed to do what most Premier League opponents try to do against them
Wenger called this a test for his side at the start of the game and it is fair to say they failed it badly. Arsenal rarely resort to this game-plan because in the Premier League, the Gunners are the ones that usually enjoy 66 per cent possession and dictate matters in the middle of the park.
They tried to pack their defensive-third with five men just in front of the back-four, just as the lesser teams in the domestic league do at the Emirates Stadium, but even the French boss admitted that his men were “extremely poor defensively”.
4. Six top class goals were not the only thing on offer in this thoroughly entertaining fixture
This was obviously a disappointing game for Arsenal as they suffered their joint-worst defeat in Europe alongside the 4-0 loss to AC Millan at San Siro back in 2012.
For the neutrals, this game was good value for their money as they witnessed a glut of well-worked goals, a couple of decent saves and some hilarious moments. First, it was Mesut Ozil feigning ignorance after deliberately scoring with his elbow.
Then came probably the most embarrassing moment in Xabi Alonso’s career when he kicked the flag while taking a corner kick.
5. The Gunners now need a favour from the ruthless Bavarian giants
This defeat leaves Arsenal on the brink of Champions League exit as they sit at the bottom of Group F with six points separating them from second-placed Olympiacos.
That means the Gunners have to win by a two-goal margin against both Olympiacos and Dynamo Zagreb, then hope that Bayern defeat Olympiacos. It is clearly a huge mountain to climb for the north London club and they will realise that they left themselves with too much to do after two defeats in their first two, winnable group games.