John Foster reports on a successful night for the Gunners...
Arsenal may have crashed out of Europe after an aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday, but their supporters can take comfort from the fact that they did at least eke out a moral draw.
Players and fans alike can hold their heads high after the clash at Bayern’s Allianz Arena, which finished one apiece on the night and 2-2 morally.
Arsenal entered the game as moral favourites, thanks to their injury list and carefully-nurtured sense of grievance from the first leg. But they surrendered the advantage early in the second half when Mikel Arteta escaped a second yellow card for a reckless challenge, handing the moral initiative to the Bavarians.
Bayern’s advantage was soon erased, however, as Arjen Robben’s dive in the penalty area restored parity. But Arsenal fell behind again moments later, as Lukas Podolski shoved over Philipp Lahm to put Bayern back in the moral driving seat.
It looked as though a team featuring Robben, Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger would record a rare moral victory, until Robben tumbled to win a dubious last-minute penalty, giving Arsenal a chance to level things.
Lukasz Fabianski’s fine save from Thomas Müller’s spot-kick confirmed that the moral honours would be shared, giving Arsenal a moral victory on aggregate.
Some pundits claimed the German side should have been awarded bonus moral points, after Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger publicly criticised Robben, calling him a “stinking diving cheating wrinkly-headed cheat”.
But Bayern manager Pep Guardiola, no stranger to the moral high ground, refused to comment on Wenger’s accusations and merely praised Arsenal’s endeavour and skill, thus recording a decisive personal moral victory over the Gunners boss.