Pitchside Europe

Sanogo’s performance a bright spot for beaten Arsenal

Arsene Wenger caught many people off guard on Wednesday night when he selected the inexperienced Yaya Sanogo ahead of Olivier Giroud for Arsenal's crunch tie with Bayern Munich.

The Gunners boss started the 21-year-old against Liverpool in the FA Cup at the weekend for the very first time and clearly felt the young Frenchman had done enough to continue in the starting line-up against the Champions League holders.

It was a big ask for the former Auxerre hitman, who was tasked with leading the Arsenal line for 90 minutes on his own. His night wasn’t made any easier when Wojciech Szczesny was sent off in the 39th minute, resulting in Lukasz Fabianski replacing Santi Cazorla.

With one of his supply lines now cut off and Bayern dominating against 10 men, the youngster had a somewhat frustrating, yet relatively impressive night as the lone frontman.

Arsenal started the better of the two sides and other than a long-range Toni Kroos strike that Szczesny tipped around the post, the home side had the better chances to take the lead. One of which fell to Sanogo.

The striker's shot in the area was denied by a superb save from Manuel Neuer in the Bayern goal. That effort was Sanogo’s only effort on target as the Arsenal chances dried up following the red card.

This screenshot was taken from the Squawka Football App - Download it here

He made a nuisance of himself in he air and won 69% of his headed duels throughout the 90 minutes, but with little to no support his efforts were often wasted.

To put this into context, his nine headed duels was the highest amount any player in the Champions League had won this week - proving his worth and causing Bayern numerous problems defensively.

A look at his heat map from the game reveals the ground that the 21-year-old was forced to cover as he chased down and harried the Munich backline.

Sanogo was left isolated for the majority of the night with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain appearing to be the only other player willing to drive forward past him, after the Gunners went down to 10 men.

However, on the ball Sanogo was effective as he tried to link the play. As his pass map elow shows, a number of his passes were made with his back towards goal, showing his desire to try and move his team higher up the pitch and keep his side on the front foot.

This screenshot was taken from the Squawka Football App - Download it here

However, with Arsenal on the back foot for much of the game Sanogo was forced to drop deeper and deeper.

He made five defensive actions during the game, including three interceptions and two clearances as he aided the home side's midfielders, who were being overrun.

This screenshot was taken from the Squawka Football App - Download it here

Leading the line as a lone striker can be a thankless task at the best of times, but against the European champions who have a man advantage, it’s a near impossible job.

Sanogo coped well on his Champions League debut, he linked the play effectively, made his presence felt and helped his side defensively, when their backs were against the wall.