Dogged Arsenal fight to a draw against Bayern | Football News - Hindustan Times
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Dogged Arsenal fight to a draw against Bayern

Apr 10, 2024 06:54 PM IST

The Premier League table toppers gave it their all to finish with a 2-2 scoreline against the German giants at the Emirates on Tuesday.

What can you expect from a team that’s competing in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 14 years? Against an opponent that’s knocked them out of the competition on four occasions. Well, if it’s Mikel Arteta’s current Arsenal side, who are sitting atop the Premier League table, the least you can expect is a dogged fight, and that’s precisely what they produced in a 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich at the Emirates on Tuesday.

Arsenal's Belgian midfielder #19 Leandro Trossard (R) celebrates(AFP)
Arsenal's Belgian midfielder #19 Leandro Trossard (R) celebrates(AFP)

Bayern, to be fair, headed into the game with their confidence shaken as their decade-long stranglehold on the Bundesliga is being brought to an end by Bayer Leverkusen. To make matters worse, their supporters were banned for the match by Uefa for using pyrotechnics in their last-16 match against Lazio. But the German giants have a rich pedigree in the Champions League, with their mental edge over the Gunners being a key factor in the buildup.

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Because of that, perhaps, It was the visitors who made an impression in the first few minutes of the contest. But Arsenal aren’t the same side that squandered a great opportunity towards the end of the last season. As was evident in their draw away at Manchester City recently, they have a lot more grit now and began to take control of proceedings with some slick passing.

Gabriel Martinelli fired a shot just wide before Alphonso Davies, a crucial cog for Bayern, put in a clumsy tackle on Bukayo Saka to get a yellow, which ruled him out of the return leg. Arsenal took the lead minutes later as Saka curled a superb shot into the corner. The 22-year-old, who has looked a bit lost at times on the pitch of late, seemed hungry from the get-go this time around and made no mistake cutting in from the right.

Arsenal had a golden opportunity to double their lead soon after but Ben White, after receiving a clever little pass from Kai Havertz, hit the ball straight to Manuel Neuer despite having a clear shot on goal. It proved to be a costly miss as Bayern, to no one’s surprise, found a way to equalise just six minutes after Saka’s opener. A mixup between Gabriel Magalhaes and goalkeeper David Raya saw former Arsenal man Serge Gnabry take advantage and find the back of the net.

Bayern then got the lead thanks to a brilliant run from Leroy Sane, who was tripped inside the box by William Saliba. With Raya committing to one side way too early, Harry Kane put away the penalty comfortably. It ended up being a disappointing first half for the hosts as despite having 61 per cent possession, they went into the break trailing by a goal.

Arsenal needed something special to carve open the Bayern defence and they got that from substitutes Gabriel Jesus and Leandro Trossard. Having come on together after the hour mark, Jesus showcased some deft footwork before Trossard remained composed to slot the ball in for the equaliser.

There was drama late in the contest as substitute Kingsley Coman hit the post from close range, and even more when Saka, after finding himself in a one-on-one situation with Neuer, went down after colliding with the goalkeeper. Despite animated appeals by the Arsenal players, the referee and VAR reckoned it wasn’t a penalty.

While that decision remained debatable, all in all, Arsenal would be pleased with their performance. With Jesus and Trossard making a big impact and Martinelli having precious little of the ball during his time on the pitch, the Gunners may way to switch things around in the second leg. Bayern’s pace on counters was a consistent threat as well, which raises the possibility of a more compact defensive setup next week.

“In certain way, we are alive and we’ve done what we had to do when the game became very difficult for us,” said Arteta after the game. “But as well as understanding that we have to step up the level in certain aspects of the game, to be much better and to have a real chance to win the game. I am very proud, now I sense the belief there, we are going to go to Munich and have the chance to win it and we’re going to be better in certain areas and that’s how we are going to prepare it.”

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