Sunday 23 July 2017

'Arsenal bleed themselves to death again': European papers take aim at Gunners after Bayern humiliation

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud after being substituted last night
Arsenal's Olivier Giroud after being substituted last night

Ed Malyon

Arsenal’s humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich, a two-legged humiliation stretching to double figures, provoked an inevitably strong reaction across the continent.

And it is telling that this team are now perceived in similar fashion both at home and abroad, with the overriding emotion coming through the European media in attendance being one of pity and resignation - this is a manager whose time is at an end.

If there is a silver lining to this lingering cloud over Arsenal, then it is that they will no longer have to battle on multiple fronts. Their Premier League campaign is long over and, in such humiliating fashion, their Champions League one ended too.

“The Premier League escaped them a few weeks ago…” said AS, “and once again only the FA Cup remains to gloss over their season… disappointing.”

“Arsenal bleed themselves to death again,” read Mundo Deportivo’s headline, describing the evening as “one of the most sad scenes that one can remember at the Emirates.”

Bild, predictably, focused on Bayern’s strengths but delivered one killer line on the two teams’ respective second half performances - “the Munichers turned up, the Londoners gave up.”

There were few summaries as brief yet so cutting.

“Arsenal said adiós at the last 16 phase of the Champions League for the seventh time in a row,” recalled AS, leading on Wenger’s sorry record in Europe’s top competition. And to go with a sorry record was a sorry performance.

A performance akin to giving up, according to L’Equipe, who felt that “Wenger’s players stopped pressing, and then playing, after the equalizer which was a synonym for elimination.

“Bayern then reminded us that they were a European giant, beating the Gunners over and over in an Emirates that was emptying bit by bit.”

“If there was no balance from Bayern in the first half,” posited Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, “then in the second half the greater strength, both technical and mental, of the Bavarians shone through.”

Across the board the verdict on Arsenal, the team and the manager who personifies them, was damning and yet there were individuals who received some credit.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was awarded the maximum grade of three stars byAS - the same as Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski - was described as “omnipresent”.

L’Equipe was full of praise for Hector Bellerin and Theo Walcott, who combined down the right flank “to make Bayern suffer.” Walcott was, they said, “the author of a great first half.”

But ultimately this result was what it was, a doubling of an already humiliating scoreline played out to a backdrop of inevitability and increasingly restless home fans.

“The result said everything,” concluded Marca.

“Arsenal, completely sunk, said goodbye to the Champions League with a scandalous performance that unmasked Wenger. Twenty years later, it is time to say goodbye to the French coach.

“This team’s performance said all that needed to be said.”

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