There are times watching Arsenal they give off the sense that their season just started. And one forgets the last time we used "well coached" to describe Arsenal. "Ill prepared" , "tentative" , " reactive" are more apt descriptors. The overarching gestalt is of a side that lacks focus, composure, makes mistakes, digs into an early hole and then repeats the same thing again and again match after match. Whether it is Bradford or Bayern, it doesn't seem to matter. They make goalscoring against them look so easy, so facile, it never ceases to astound.
Bayern were a side that played well within themselves. Truth be told, the Bundesliga leaders by a mile did not really have to. Watch the build up to the goal as Arteta did not attempt to close the distance to Thomas Mueller and when the cross came, Aaron Ramsey whiffed on it leaving Kroos with a perfect response as Mertesacker was too late closing on him. A well struck shot into ground that went past Szczesny.
Arsenal's anxiety on corners is now a well documented piece of existential crisis. Maybe it is zonal marking but then you have to get players into position to deny space. Daniel Van Buyten got his head on the ball unchallenged with Ramsey failing to front him and Szczesny's reaction was a weak parry straight to Thomas Mueller left with the simple task of popping the ball into goal as defenders stood around.
By now, we were looking at an whipping of epic proportions without Bayern, slipping past second gear. Philipp Lahm haring down the right unfettered was giving a clinic in whipped crosses as Arsenal's defense lost its shape again but was fortunate Mario Mandzukic did not do better with his header.
Wenger promoted Theo Walcott to striker as pundits built on his blistering pace slipping behind lines as some sort of WWII tactic while playing Cazorla on the wing but the former was rarely involved as the Munich side escorted him out of damage mode into anonymous mode very effectively.
Arsenal showed an improvement in the second half as Jack Wilshere showed the living on the edge quality of his game, driving past defenders, slipping passes into space, but if he could only have the scoring touch! He would be the complete unit. His drive and energy translated into a 10 minute period where an ascendent Arsenal scored to close the gap through an erroneously given corner and a terrible piece of defending by Dante and goalkeeping by Manuel Neuer. That was Arsenal like in its shambolicity (yes, there is a word like that somewhere or if there isn't, there should be). Lukas Poldolksi was left with a simple swivel of head to score against his former club.
A brief period followed thereafter that when things looked rocky for Bayern but a series of cheap free kicks allowed them to re-establish themselves and Arsenal exerted its patent on shambolicity by gifting a third goal, effectively ending their Champions League campaign. Arjen Robben played Lahm wide with the wingback dispatching his cross low and hard as Sagna and Szczesny caught in no man's land allowed Mandzukic to slide in and deflect the ball high into the roof of goal. Wenger brought in Olivier Giroud just before, and the Frenchman who seems to have four missed chances for every goal he scores had a moment to peg back one but his shot went straight to Neuer.
Arsenal did not get blown away and there were bright moments but it was not enough. Bayern were just too good for them and this loss exposes the gap between the best teams in Europe and us. We have got to the group of 16 two years in a row and we're in danger of crashing out at this stage again. Once again we've hit a ceiling we're unable to break out of.
A seemingly insignificant observation but there was a period when Bacary Sagna received the ball down the right flank and hemmed in by a couple of Bayern players, twisted and turned in desperation looking for an outlet as Arsenal players stood off watching the spectacle. There are too many bystanders on this team. We can go to Munich where a win might not be enough for progress. Or we can now concentrate on finishing fourth in the league but the greater victory will be if somehow this leads to introspection on what made Arsenal the great side it was and effect meaningful changes, transfer wise and tactically.