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Where now for hapless Gunners?

FLASHPOINT: Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny gets a red card during last night's thrashing

THE GERMANS have a word for it - Schadenfreude. However, Bayern elected not to laugh at the unfortunate misery of their English hosts after their 5-1 win in Munich three weeks ago in the Allianz Arena, but preceded to inflict the same damage, and by the same scoreline to humiliate Arsenal 5-1 at the Emirates stadium, to recall a 10-2 aggregate win over the Gunners. Before that, something bizarre had threatened to take shape.

The mortally wounded animal which is Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League briefly looked up and was enthused when Theo Walcott gave it a smattering of life support with a stunning opener after 20 minutes. On top and in search of more first half goals, Arsenal were more than holding their own as Bayern struggled to cope with the pace.

A dubious Robert Lewandowski penalty after the break however allowed the Bundesliga side to open to floodgates as Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa and two quick fire goals from Arturo Vidal crushed the Gunners in total Champions League humiliation and elimination. Laurent Koscielny was controveriaally shown a red card for halting Lewandowski's surge, even though the Poland striker appeared to fall into the Arsenal captain.

Just as spring follows winter, the harbinger to the Arsenal season seems to be Champions League exit, and followed by the rush to get a top four Premier League finish for Champions League qualification for the following season.

It has proved thus for the last half a dozen seasons or so, yet this season, and with this squad, the Gunners faithful dared to believe their team would break that mould. Arsenal's owner Stan Kroenke has been conspicuous by his absence as the Gunners lurch from one crisis to another, but silent Stan - whose sporting teams in the US have proven to be relatively unsuccessful, has remained silent.

That was unlike the hundreds of Arsenal fans who protested ahead of the Bayern clash, and wanted Arsene Wenger to leave now. Be careful what you wish for is the often repeated response, however no Arsenal fan would wish for what they witnessed at the Emirates on Tuesday evening.

The signs were there from before the off. Danny Welbeck injured himself in the warm up and was replaced by Olivier Giroud.

Arsenal made a bright start, but Robben and David Alaba sent warning efforts towards David Ospina's goal. Masses of loo rolls from the Bayern end held up the game for a few moments and the Gunners started to click into shape.

Alexis Sanchez released Walcott's but Manuel Neuer rushed off his line to clear the danger. Giroud then rose to head just wide as Bayern were put under pressure.

With 20 minutes on the clock, Walcott and Giroud worked the ball which the former came away with. Taking a glance up, Walcott unleashed a stunning power drive to beat Neuer at his near post. A goal to the good and now Arsenal needed three more.

Then came a controversial decision by the additional goal line assistant which denied Arsenal a nailed on penalty. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's clever reverse pass was seized on by Walcott. As he prepared to shoot, the England man was cut down by Javi Martinez 's attempt to get the ball, and the same official who would rule red for Koscielny, unbelievably failed to see the Martinez foul on Walcott. Bayern had gotten away with one with the score at 1-0 at the time and one was left wondering what if.

Arsenal continued the pressure as Mustafi put in Walcott again but from an acute angle he couldn't find the target. Now Alexis put through Aaron Ramsey who teed up Giroud but the France striker struck high. One up at the, Arsenal looked to be on course for a respectable second leg response, but all that would brutally change soon after the restart.

Although Giroud headed over from Ramsey's cross three minutes after the break, the next moments of action would all come in Ospina's goal.

When Koscielny saw Lewandoski fall into him, he should have been been awarded a free kick. However the Greek officials deemed a Bayern penalty and red card for the Arsenal captain. It was cruel and the double jeopardy rule was not being honoured by referee Tasos Sidiropoulos officiating in his first Champions League last 16 match.

When Lewandowski scored from the spot to level at 1-1, ten man Arsenal then just fell apart. Needing on field leadership and direction, Arsenal showed neither, Bayern sensed that and then went for the jugular.

A poor Ospina clear out and Robben nicked in as the Arsenal defence dithered to cooly finish past the Colombian for 2-1.
Alexis off made way for Lucas Perez, Giroud for Mesut Ozil and Ramsey for Francis Coqulein, but it mattered not.

Lewandowski hit the post after substitute Costa ran amok to cross after 75 minutes.
Seven minutes after coming on, Costa buried his shot for 3-1 after skipping in from Mustafi after Granit Xhaka had lost possession higher up the pitch.

Two minutes later and Vidal skipped in as Mustafi tried to play out, lifting over Ospina for 4-1. After 85 minutes and the humiliation was complete. Substitute Reanto Sanches's killer pass freed Vidal and Costa to combine and beat the offside trap as Vidal grabbed his second and 5-1 to Bayern again.

The gulf in class was evident and Arsenal's inability to keep eleven men in the pitch cost them dearly. Pressure on Wenger yet again as yet another season disintegrates in front of his very disbelieving eyes and worryingly, the answers he seeks to arrest the deterioration seem to be nowhere in sight.

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