Good morning. Barney Ronay will be online from 11am to take part in a live webchat.
What did Arsenal do wrong? What did Bayern Munich do right? Is the tie finished? What next for Arsenal? Is Arsène Wenger's time up? So many questions. Thankfully, Barney Ronay is here to provide the answers.
While waiting for Barney, why not read his report from last night:
For Arsenal, who were made to seem no more than a mild irritation at times by a brilliantly well-grooved Bayern Munich, it could have been much worse. In the end Arsène Wenger and his team will take, if not hope, then at least a spritz of salvaged dignity to the Allianz Arena after a decisive-looking, 3-1 first-leg defeat.
For Wenger, by turns excitable, downcast and rueful on the touchline there was at least the spectacle of this diminished and transitional Arsenal team belatedly rousing themselves; but in the end they were simply short of the required quality against a composed and unremittingly focused Bayern. The Bavarians will take some stopping in this competition – just not, as it turns out, by Arsenal.
It was unfortunate but still perhaps instructive that the visit of these – other-worldly, if we are to believe the pre-match hype – opponents coincided with Wenger's most troubled week in England. Depending on whom you choose to listen to, Arsenal's manager arrived here in a state of imminent personal meltdown or, in his own words, ready to embrace "a fantastic opportunity" to win the Champions League.
For all the recent black eyes and the sense of a team with too many pale imitations of what was once the real deal – a Thierry Henry-lite here, an own brand Cesc Fàbregas there – the truth is, as ever, somewhere in between. Click here to continue reading.
If you have any questions about the tie, drop them into the comments section below.
Barney is in the comment section answering questions:
Hello everyone. Bit fragile today but I will do my best to appear not just knowledgeable and wise but also able to type quickly without spelling mistakes.
Mark Lovell asks: "Where do you stand on the regressing Premier League? It is not beyond the realms of possibility that we will see three Bundesliga sides in the last eight, while the Premier League will not be represented at all."
Maybe it's a bit too easy to read a narrative into it: noisy, short-termist billionaire-dominated Premier League faces inevitable decline in quality; while academy-friendly, fan-friendly, well-run, anti-billionaire Bundesliga profits. Certainly the Premier League modus operandi of simply hurling teams together has contributed to a drop in standards at the top. I believe an Arsenal team that had retained all its players of the last six years or so would be a better, and certainly more compelling team, than Manchester City currently are.
Often these things just go in cycles but I think there is no coincidence Bayern and Barcelona – regional powerhouses who can source and put together the best young players – are likely to dominate for the next few years. Beats the jumpy, cash-hurling manager-sacking billionaire-ownership model any day.
Geeky_Disco asks: "Is an eight-years-trophyless Wenger finished?"
No. I don't think there is a crisis or a "meltdown" as such, just a wider scale realignment in football and Arsenal will do well to compete as they are. It is very easy to pick out flaws – all teams and managers have them – when basically your best players always leave.
Wenger could do with bringing in some help, either above or below. He looks – by choice - very isolated. It's a one-man club now, whereas Bayern for example have layers of management and experience everywhere, Arsenal are essentially one man's vision.
Unitedchaps asks: "Would Arsenal be better off not qualifying for Champions League and trying to rebuild the squad and its confidence levels? And how long do you think Wilshere is likely to hang around if Arsenal continue on this downward spiral?"
Wilshere won't leave now. And why would he anyway? He's barely played any first-team football; he starts every game; he's a first choice for England and he loves Arsenal. I hope he stays there his whole career and becomes a one-club totem like Ryan Giggs or Xavi or Tony Hibbert. There's too much flailing around as it is. Less change. More sticking it out.
EminEmma29 asks: "Is it time for Wenger to go? Who would be a good replacement to achieve something in the short-term? Bringing in a new manager would also put pressure on the owners to invest more and buy some decent players. The bulk of the team is there."
I don't think he will or should go. The only pressure is coming from a few newspapers and a small section of supporters, many of whom are... well.
It would, of course, be interesting to see a little extra input into the coaching and tactics. Someone like Mauricio Pochettino looks to have new and different ideas that might work really well with those players. Could he work with Wenger? Probably not. He is increasingly a cymbal-clashing mouth organ squeaking accordion fumbling one man band. But I think he'll stay. The "crisis" seems contrived.
notseto says: "Chelsea and Manchester City didn't even qualify for the knock-out stages. Why so much attention on Arsenal?"
Good point, and they spent a lot more money. But then, they did both win ahem [whispers tactfully] major trophies last season so maybe that helps. I'm just saying.
Optomistprime asks: "Who would want to take over from Wenger? I can't see the cream of world management chomping at the proverbial to come to a club that fancies itself as a wing of Ernst & Young."
I'm not sure you're right there. The club is brilliantly stable. The structures are there. Stadium's huge. It's in - sorry - London. Money to spend. And no trophies for eight years so due an upturn. It is in many ways a dream job.
TheMythfielder asks: "What happened to Aaron Ramsey? Wasn't he supposed to be one of Britain's brightest young talents and in the care of one of Britain's best bright-young-talent nurturers?"
I think it is very boringly just the fact that these things don't always work out. There are players like this at all the top clubs. The whatever-happened-to types, who kind of get by but don't push on. He's had a terrible injury. And the squad is thin so he can't just drift into the background for a bit. What happened to Nani? What happened to Jack Rodwell? Ou sont les Joe Coles d'antan? All excellent questions.
Timurjin asks: "Did they lose last night due to tactics or players – and what tactics or players did they need?"
I think they lost because Bayern were +1, just on another level. They are simply a more powerful organisation with better players, some home-grown, some bought with their superior spending power. Having said that, a good team can beat a very good team if it gets its approach right, swallows its pride and plays like it knows it's the inferior team.
Arsenal didn't do this – they can't do it, it's not in the temperament of the players or the manager. They tried to stand toe-to-toe with a team who can play the Arsenal style of driving attacking football with anyone. It worked for seven minutes. So, yes, a tactical shift might have bridged the gulf a little. But the gulf is there all the same and no doubt everyone would still be moaning after a fluked and scrappy 1-1 draw.
Oebo26 asks: "Is Santi Carzola any good? He seems to be capable of moments of very good skill and ability, but when it comes to the big games – like last night and many other games throughout this season – he doesn't seem to be able to make much of an impression."
Cazorla has played a lot of football, looked tired for a few weeks and perhaps needs to be protected a little more than he is. In a hierarchy of small, skilful, likeable Spanish playmakers I'd put him behind Mata, behind Fabregas, but comfortably ahead of Jordi Gomez. He can be a joy to watch and has boundless technical skill but is maybe best as an adornment to a team that's playing well. You saw last night what genuinely assertive midfielders look like.
Frome asks: "Realistically, which aspects of Alex Ferguson's management style could Wenger copy to improve Arsenal?"
Er, he could be more ruthless. More pig-headedly stop-at-nothing. More aware of the need to do ugly things too. Also, wave more bits of silver around above his head in summer time.
Hootenannys asks: "Would any other fans tolerate the owners like Arsenal fans do? There were parasitic owners at Liverpool who invested little and sold the best players, and the fans were galvanised and protested. This would not be tolerated at other top clubs, but Arsenal fans seem to be in limp acceptance at the mismanagement of their club."
I don't think this club is being mismanaged. It is being managed a certain way that some supporters may disagree with. When it comes to cynical self-serving ownership I'd say Manchester United fans should be far more cross about the Glazers than they seem to be, but trophies – while they keep coming: they can thank the manager for that – seem to have a hypnotic effect.
BerbaForPresident asks: "How do you think Bayern match up against Barcelona and Real Madrid? Barça should be favorites but behind them, as usual, there seems to be a gap in quality. Could Manchester United stand a chance at a final if they can squeeze past Madrid?"
Personally I'd put Bayern in between Real Madrid and Barcelona. A Barca-Bayern final would be great. Keep the ball and give it to Messi versus keep the ball and occasionally zoom forwards. I think Bayern will win if they play each other. They have less extreme but more varied strengths.
Coltrane27 asks: "How impressed were you with Bayern's team work last night? They were Arsenal's polar opposite. They defended and attacked as a unit, got back into position quickly and exploited Arsenal's obvious weaknesses. Without doing anything spectacular, Lahm, Kross and Muller were deadly efficient. Martinez and Schweinsteiger shielded Bayern's back four, whereas Arteta was simply bypassed. Dante looked a great signing."
I agree about their team work. What they seem to have is loads of really good partnerships all over the pitch. Lahm and Muller together are more than the sum of their – already quite decent – parts as they work brilliantly together. They are all great and very confident athletes so there is always cover, always somebody charging on ahead. And they can do that thing of resting on the ball for three or four minutes as the midfield can keep it easily. It is more than efficiency though. Great skill too. For example Ribery's skimming diagonal pass to – I think Lahm - in the build-up to the second goal... Aye. It were proper champion.
Shonil asks: "Does last night's result and manner of performance confirm once cent for all that the best football is now played outside of the Premier League?"
Yes, sure, but it's not such a big deal is it. Let's not forget Chelsea won it last year. United have been in all those finals recently. And many other excellent leagues are also available, some of them without collective bargaining for TV rights. It is perhaps only the Premier League's boorish bragging about itself that makes us so quick to point out its failings on the pitch. The fact is it is very hard to be the best in Europe. But no doubt the Premier League is in a slight zombie-moment, just plodding forward without any real sense of progression, no new teams emerging or being built to get excited about. Never mind though. A new TV deal's about to kick in!
Markstallard writes: "Mediocre is the perfect description of this Arsenal side, illustrated perfectly by the sight of jack Wilshere receiving the ball, looking around him and realising that if he passes it, another minute of sideways/backwards passing will ensue, so wearily setting off on another (excellent) dribble. Is Wilshere the real deal and for how long can Arsenal keep him if they aren't playing in the Champions League?"
I think Wilshere is a really good player. I wasn't totally sure what to expect after his injury. But against Brazil and last night it was clear that he is above all a brave player, totally unafraid in possession, with a lovely gift for short passing and for bursting into space.
He's not Gazza, who could do anything, and was a dribbler, a goalscorer, a header, a free-kick maestro and a real physical specimen in his prime. But Wilshere is subtle and intelligent and always on the point. He will affect and decide matches. He is also in no way the problem, just an excellent footballer who should be just left to get on with being quite good, worthy of most teams and always fun to watch.
Padski asks: "Does this not happen every year? Wenger is supposedly awful and past it. Spurs are finally better than Arsenal. But then they go on a run, finish fourth and everything is forgotten until January the following year? I'm a Spurs fan and history tells me that it is not over yet."
Arsenal got into the top four with a slightly lucky result in their final fixture of the season last year. It was as close to being not there as you can get while still actually being there. And they had Robin van Persie and Alex Song in the team. I think Spurs are favourites to finish above Arsenal this year.
Grunn says: "You colleague gave Theo Walcott a seven out of 10 last night, but only awarded David Alaba with a five. I'm a bit baffled as I saw it differently on TV. Was there a lot of off-the-ball movement from Walcott that you could see in the stadium but not on TV or is it just nonsense?"
Walcott often looks better in the flesh than he does on TV, where the basic menace of his speed and direct running isn't clear. He did unsettle Bayern, very slightly, once or twice. He tried to win headers. He basically played on his own against four defenders. I guess the TV made him look like he was just falling over a lot and not doing much.
Imaneditor2 writes: "You have been a keen advocate for Arsenal's level-headed, long-term running of the club, which has seen the board and/or Wenger shy away from the carefree spending of the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. Does this mean you expect Arsenal to be in a better position than these two clubs in, say, 10 years time? Or is responsible ownership sadly a precursor to a lack of success on the pitch?"
It's got nothing to do with what Chelsea or Man City do. You cannot compete with bottomless wealth. As for getting the best out of what Arsenal have, I think they're on the right track basically. Football is littered with clubs that had a punt on success and crashed and burned. Putting Portsmouth above Arsenal in those lists of who's won what in the last eight years is just stupid. They were cheating. And where are they now?
PassionSux asks: "Who influences you as a writer?"
Er... I dunno really. Beyond the usual people you already know about Cameron Carter in When Saturday Comes always makes me laugh. I think he's the funniest writer out there to be honest.
Barney has signed off:
Thanks for all your questions. I'm sorry I haven't answered all of them, but (a) it's hard to type fast enough; and (b) so many of them were "who should replace Arsene Wenger?' which I find almost impossible to answer other than below, and partly because the real answer is no one.
That's all from me for now. Let's web-chat again soon, Barney.