Lack of effort to blame for Arsenal defeat

TEAMtalk's tactician Tom McDermott believes Arsenal's defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday night can be put down to a simple lack of effort.

Last Updated: 22/02/13 at 16:29 Post Comment

Jack Wilshere: Looks on as Bayern celebrate

Jack Wilshere: Looks on as Bayern celebrate

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

There is no shame in Arsenal losing to Bayern Munich as they did on Tuesday night. The Bavarian giants are running away with the Bundesliga and are the favourites to win the Champions League after Barcelona lost at AC Milan on Wednesday.

What isn't acceptable is the manner in which Arsenal lost at Emirates Stadium. And, because of how Arsene Wenger's players approached the game, they only have themselves to blame.

I don't particularly blame Arsenal or Wenger for their defeat against Blackburn at the weekend. It came at an unfortunate time, and now and again bigger sides do get beat by lower-league opposition. You only have to look at Bradford City's run in the League Cup this season or Leeds United's victory at Old Trafford against Manchester United a few seasons ago to realise that it can happen.

However, there was an unforgivable lack of desire and effort shown by numerous members of Wenger's side during spells of their game against Bayern Munich.

Arsenal didn't need to put on an incredible tactical show in order to stifle Bayern's attacking threat. What they did need to display was the attitude and desire of a Sunday league footballer. And at times, particularly in the first half, they didn't.

It left me thinking, for the first time under Wenger's spell at the club, two things. Firstly, are the players really playing for the manager? And secondly, do they have the desire to represent the club and fans in the manner so many previous Arsenal sides (successful and not so successful) have?

If the answer to both questions is yes, then Wenger needs to adapt how he approaches games because his side are no longer good enough to simply turn up and beat the opposition on account of them being better than them.

To highlight my above concerns you only have to look at the first two goals Arsenal conceded in their 3-1 defeat to Bayern.

1-0 Bayern, Kroos: Laurent Koscielny received the ball from Per Mertesacker and for want of a better word hoofed the ball forward. He came under a little bit of pressure but elected to hit it long. No problem with that. What was surprising, was that Arsenal's midfielders on the night (Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey) didn't come short or provide an option for the Frenchman to pass too.

Other than pass back to Wojciech Szczesny there was very little Koscielny could do. It meant that straight away at least four Arsenal players hadn't done their job. How can you expect to compete in a game of football let alone a Champions League game if you don't want the ball? Mistake number one.

Mistake number two and more damaging was the lack of desire shown by the Arsenal midfield to track back and chase the ball once they had lost possession. By the time they had trotted back into position Bayern had broken down the right, the ball had broken to Kroos on the edge of the box, and he had dispatched past Szczesny.

It was a good goal but could have been prevented 10-15 seconds earlier if, at the very least, Arsenal's midfield had got goalside quicker. If you manage to catch the goal again, take a look at Cazorla's laboured attempt to get back in. You don't need a coaching badge to know that getting men behind the ball quickly when you lose possession is one of the first steps a side should take when attempting to regain the ball. In short, bust a gut, get back in.

2-0 Bayern, Muller: Defending a simple corner. It wasn't like the Stoke City corner that caught West Ham out earlier in the season; Mertesacker and Koscielny were simply caught sleeping and didn't win the first header. No sooner had Szczesny palmed Daniel Van Buyten's free header out, Thomas Muller had converted from three yards. It may have been acceptable if Van Buyten had to fight to win the ball, but he didn't, he crouched to flick it towards goal under no pressure, and Muller's task was easy.

Again, it was down to concentration at a set piece and not carrying out the basics from the training ground. Arsenal's defenders were slow to react and the second goal meant that Bayern were almost out of sight.

I haven't mentioned Mario Mandzukic's free header later on in the first half or Bayern's third goal courtesy of the Croatian international because you could argue that Arsenal were pressing on in search of a goal themselves at that point, and the inevitable gaps were appearing at the back. Both Mandzukic's chance and the third goal, though, did highlight further defensive shortcomings from other members of Arsenal's side.

24 hours later in Italy, AC Milan entertained Barcelona at the San Siro in one of the ties of the Champions League knockout stage.

On paper you could argue AC Milan's side isn't that much better than Arsenal's, if at all. What AC Milan did, though, was adapt their approach to suit the game and opposition.

They tried to make the pitch as narrow as possible and defended their 18 yard box not only with tactical discipline but with a determination and a willingness to get the job done. Without such a desire (yes the sort you might see on parks this weekend) AC Milan's plan wouldn't have succeeded.

And the result? A 2-0 home victory against Barcelona with the goals scored by former Portsmouth players Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Price Boateng.

Arsenal players - take note.

You can find Tom on Twitter at @FootballMcD.

TEAMtalk Facebook Fan Page

The TEAMtalk fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

was there, it was embarrassing - the team looked totally unbalanced from the off, the defence was woeful and when Mikel came off injured it got even worse with nobody in front of them. Up front on several occasions we had opportunities and nobody would shoot - it was a complete farse! On the back of Salah's performance I'm glad there is talk of getting shot...

Fly1ngh1gh
Cup defeat shames Mourinho

G

reat to see Tommy Rosicky getting some love. A wonderful player. Such a pity we lost so long to injury. I was so excited when we signed him, this resurgence only makes the absences seem more of a lost opportunity.

cheshire-gooner
16 Conclusions: FA Cup Fourth Round Weekend

A

pparently Chiles has blamed Twitter trolls for his exit. Proof that even the worst things can get great results at times.

cheshire-gooner
Adrian Chiles to leave ITV

Footer 365

Capital One Cup semi-final second leg team news: Chelsea v Liverpool preview

Team news for Tuesday's Capital One Cup semi-final second leg between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

Sky Bet League One: Leyton Orient part company with sporting director Mauro Milanese

League One club Leyton Orient have parted company with sporting director Mauro Milanese, according to Sky sources.

Fabian Delph: Aston Villa teammates shocked by deal

Fabian Delph has admitted his Aston Villa team-mates were shocked to hear he had signed a new deal.

Mail Box

You're Man Utd, For Crying Out Loud!

Defending a 0-0 draw with Cambridge on the grounds that other teams lost to lower-league opposition is not befitting of Man United. We're inclined to agree with Mailboxers...

A Massive Mailbox On A Weekend Of Wonder

We unsurprisingly have plenty of mails on a wonderful FA Cup weekend, including thoughts on Palace, Van Gaal, Phil Jones, Chelsea, Mourinho and Yaya Toure...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company