Arsenal annihilated as Bayern Munich expose Wenger's failings
Arsenal concede five goals in Europe for the first time in 33 years as they face up to an early exit
Bayern Munich 5 Arsenal 1.
So it was just a blip after all. Arsenal's 2-0 defeat of Bayern Munich a fortnight ago in London had, for a fleeting moment, suggested the Gunners were made of sterner stuff. But in the return match the German side ran riot.
Defeats to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos in the opening two Champions League matches of Group F had revealed the fragility - defensive and mental - at the heart of this Arsenal squad, and how that weakness was exploited by Bayern on Wednesday night as they avenged last month's defeat in ruthless fashion.
It was an annihilation in the Allianz Arena, the Gunners undone in the first half as they conceded goals to Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and David Alaba. Arjen Robben made it 4-0 on 55 minutes and though Olivier Giroud got a goal back for the visitors with a sweet strike, Muller had the last word with his second and Bayern's fifth in the penultimate minute of normal time.
It was a record-equalling night in Europe for Arsenal: they lost 4-0 to Milan in 2012, although the only other time the Gunners have shipped five in a European tie was their 5-2 thumping by Spartak Moscow in the 1982-83 Uefa Cup. And they now need a minor miracle to qualify for the last 16. With Olympiakos beating Zagreb 2-1, the Greeks and Bayern are six points clear of Arsenal with two group games remaining.
Arsenal's challenge in the next month is to beat Zagreb at the Emirates on 24 November and hope Olympiakos lose at Bayern, and then a fortnight later travel to Greece and beat Olympiakos by two clear goals because of their shocking 3-2 home defeat to the same side in September.
Given their form in the tournament so far, the chances of Arsenal reaching the last 16 for the 16th consecutive season seem remote. What's more, the Arsenal injury casualty list continues to grow with centre-back Laurent Koscielny ruled out of yesterday's clash at the 11th hour with a hip injury.
His replacement, Gabriel, had a hell of an evening and was partly at fault for two of Bayern's three first-half goals.
Asked if he could recall such a shocking defensive performance during his time at Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger replied: "My memory of 19 years is not too accurate if I'm supposed to tell you our worst defensive performance. It's certainly not going to remain in my memory for anything positive."
Despite their woeful form in the Champions League this season, Arsenal have found a rhythm in the Premier League that has moved them up into second spot, level on points with leaders Manchester City.
North London neighbours Tottenham are their opponents on Sunday and Wenger knows the importance of that fixture. "We now have to focus on the Premier League on Sunday and bounce back with a different performance because we are in a good position in the league," he said. "It's important that we realise what we did today and we know that.
As for the chances of reaching the last 16, Wenger offered a realistic assessment for the fans: "There is still a chance to qualify," he said. "Olympiakos have to lose here [Munich], we have to beat Zagreb and then we will see when we play Olympiakos away. It's a small chance but...[we] have to realise with that kind of performance that we had today that our chances are minimal."