Bayern Munich delivered a magnificent performance as they hammered Arsenal 5-1 at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday. The win ensured the Bavarians stayed level on points with Olympiacos at the top of their Champions League group, while the Gunners fell six points adrift of the pacesetters. Now needing to win their final two group games and their match in Greece by at least a couple of goals, elimination seems an inevitability for the Premier League outfit.
It took just 11 minutes for Bayern to score the first of their goals, and they did so with a style that set the tone for the remainder of a remarkable performance. An inch-perfect Thiago cross was met in the area by Robert Lewandowski, who managed to cushion his header neatly inside Petr Čech's goal for 1-0.
Arsenal thought they'd scored a surprise equaliser just seconds later, though after some smart passing and a low cross by Nacho Monreal, the referee adjudged Mesut Özil to have used his arm to nudge the ball past Manuel Neuer. Replays showed justice to have been done, and the Bavarians maintained their advantage.
Bayern weren't to make the same mistake twice, and that was their only real scare of a dominant opening period. They created a succession of decent chances before eventually doubling their lead just short of the half-hour, when a floated cross by Philipp Lahm bounced in the box before being driven into the bottom corner by Thomas Müller.
They added a third on a stroke of the interval, and it was the most spectacular of the lot. David Alaba wriggled free of Santi Cazorla and into space on the edge of the penalty area, using it to curl a stunning shot beyond Čech and into the top corner. It was game, set and match before the halftime whistle, and the Gunners looked like they needed to slip into damage limitation mode.
However, if that's what Arsène Wenger wanted from his players in the second half, they couldn't deliver it. It took just 10 minutes for Bayern to add a fourth, when a low Alaba cross was smashed into the roof of the net by Arjen Robben. It was the Dutchman's very first touch of the match, having been on the field for just 38 seconds.
Arsenal responded with a good chance of their own, though Neuer made an excellent save to deny Cazorla. The rare sighting of Bayern's goal appeared to give the Gunners a brief confidence boost, and they eventually had something to show for it. With just over 20 minutes remaining a cross by Özil was smashed home by Olivier Giroud with a brilliant scissor-kick, finally giving the travelling fans something to cheer.
Their celebrations were rather sadly short-lived, with Bayern adding a fifth goal in the dying moments of the game. A lightning counter culminated in Douglas Costa sending Müller through on goal, with the German slotting inside Čech's near post for 5-1.
Bayern Munich: Neuer; Alaba, Martínez, Boateng (Benatia 68'), Lahm; Alonso; Coman (Robben 55'), Thiago, Müller, Costa; Lewandowski (Vidal 71').
Goals: Lewandowski (10'), Müller (29', 89'), Alaba (44'), Robben (55').
Arsenal: Čech; Monreal, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Debuchy; Cazorla (Chambers 87'), Coquelin; Sánchez, Özil, Campbell (Gibbs 59'); Giroud (Iwobi 85').
Goals: Giroud (69').
1. There's no doubting how good this Bayern team is
When Bayern are smashing comfortably weak teams in the Bundesliga, it's easy to forget quite how good they are. It's only in this kind of match, against teams that are in theory around their level, that their remarkable skill is evident. Arsenal are genuine contenders for the Premier League this season, and were totally blown away in the first half. Bayern will reasonably be expecting to go all the way this year.
2. Thiago Alcântara is exceptional
When the world's best midfielders are discussed, it's rare that Thiago Alcântara is among the names mentioned. It's certainly time that changed. He was utterly magnificent in this match, dominating the midfield with his brilliant positioning and nigh-on flawless passing. It's easy to see why Pep was so eager to bring him to Munich when he arrived a couple of seasons ago: Thiago is the heartbeat of this team.
3. Arsenal's old problems are still there
Arsenal didn't attack particularly badly in this game, and they could've scored at least a couple more goals. Their major problem was, however, their lack of midfield spine. Sure, they've not been helped by a string of injuries, but it was painfully obvious that Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla were never going to be able to keep Bayern at bay. They still need at least a defensive midfielder or two to be competitive at this level.