Champions League: Bayern Munich vs Arsenal: A Great Player and a Very Good Diver, Wenger's Description of Robben
By Deepak Vikraman | March 12, 2014 3:16 PM EST
"One of the best players in the world, but a very good diver" was how Arsene Wenger described winger Arjen Robben, who was yet again at his menacing best, in the second leg of the Champions League last 16 tie between Bayern Munich and Arsenal, while also falling down at contact from thin air.
At the end of the day, however, Bayern Munich were the better side over the two legs, with the defending European champions coming out 3-1 aggregate winners after the second leg ended in a 1-1 draw.
Wenger, though, insisted the tie might have panned out different had Wojciech Szczesny not been sent off in the first leg, with Bayern scoring both their goals at the Emirates after Arsenal went down to ten men.
"I felt it was not a red card, it's as simple as that. Any foul in the box is then a red card," Wenger reiterated. "Even UEFA has come out and said that they have to re-think that problem. First of all for me it was not a goalscoring opportunity because if Szczesny is really assured he can get a foul against him as well for a high foot of Robben.
"This situation can be analysed in both ways where you can give a foul against Robben for his foot being too high. But if you look well [at it] again when the ball goes after the control you will see that he never had a goal chance because the ball was in the feet of Sagna so it was never, never a goalscoring opportunity."
Arsenal, though, were far from their best in the second leg, unable to force the issue when the issue was crying out to be forced. Lukas Podolski, via an unbelievable non-decision, when he seemed to clearly push Philipp Lahm to get to the ball, equalised just two minutes after Bastian Schweinsteiger's opening goal in the 55th minute, but Arsenal could not bulge the net a few more times.
"I feel we had to defend a lot in the first half but we knew that being in the game at halftime we had a good chance to win the game," Wenger said on Tuesday night. "I believe that in the second half the opportunities were there but overall over the two games I feel that what made the difference is the decision to send our goalkeeper off in the first game.
"We played a 1-1 tonight and that decision had a huge impact. It was on the same player who got a penalty again tonight and that's the regret we have. Spirit wise we had everything until the end. Good luck to Bayern, they are a good side but I think they are this season more vulnerable than last year.
Arsenal needed to take a few risks going forward and apply a bit of pressure on the Bayern backline after pulling the game back to 1-1, with two more goals taking them to the quarterfinals, but that was hardly the case as the home team comfortably saw off the final half hour and could have even won the second leg 2-1 had Thomas Muller put a penalty past Lukasz Fabianski.
"Our defending, our spirit was good. The frustration we had was the last 20 minutes I felt that Bayern was very vulnerable defensively and that we didn't take advantage of that," Wenger added. "We always missed the first pass but I felt the situations were there where we could have made more of it.
"At the end of the day we never got them really under pressure. Even at 1-1 you could see they became suddenly nervous but because we never managed to make it 2-1, of course you could not really see how they would have responded. They are a good team, they are a great side with great players. They played well but we still have regrets over the two games."
The game was also under the spotlight due to Robben's insistence on falling down to the ground the moment any Arsenal defender came within five yards of him, with the Dutchman, after escaping a yellow card following a blatant dive inside the box, winning a very soft penalty in the final moments of the game, which was missed by Muller.
Wenger criticised Robben for making the most of the Szczesny challenge in the first leg, and the manager did not hold back on his comments after leg two.
"Robben is very good at getting the maximum of nothing and he is a great player and as well a very good diver, but it is a part of it," the Frenchman said.
"He gets in front of a player and then he slows down and goes down. He gets the freekicks. That's where we spoke about yesterday that the referee, if he gives him a yellow card on the first one when he goes down, he will not do it again."
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