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LONDON --  This should sting for Arsenal. Midway through this quarterfinal their superiority over Bayern Munich is stultifyingly apparent everywhere except where matters most, the scoresheet where the two teams are locked at 2-2 heading to the second leg. Their players look stronger, faster and technically superior to the soon to be deposed champions of Germany. They may not have a crowd of 60,000 Gooners and scant pockets of Germans in the Allianz Arena next week, but the jubilance with which the Emirates Stadium greeted this back in the big time moment could scarcely contrast more vividly with the grumbles around the Bayern camp.

Then there is the manager. It isn't just that Mikel Arteta has proven to be a more unifying force at Arsenal than Thomas Tuchel has at any of his recent jobs bar Chelsea. Tonight, the Spaniard got every adjustment right from pre-match to the final whistle. This is an exceptionally coached team that can set itself out to needle at an opponent's weak spots and can bait their opponent into just the wrong moment.

That the penalty with which Bayern Munich took a 2-1 lead came from one of the outstanding tactical wrinkles of Arsenal's early game rather told the story of this gruelling return to the big time for Mikel Arteta's side. Sometimes you get so much more right than you get wrong and find yourself cruelly punished all the same, mistakes fully exploited by the opponent, the breaks that might have come not going your way, right the way down to a Saka penalty that wasn't at the death as the ref paused in swallowing his whistle just long enough to declare the match over.

Arsenal's superiority was apparent from the off. Bayern might have seen plenty of the ball, but it was being forced into the channels that the Gunners wanted them to play in. Saka's early pressure forced a turnover off a muddled Eric Dier and Alphonso Davies. Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz worked the ball infield and Gabriel Martinelli punted, his shot flashing just wide of the far post.

It was as if Arsenal could take the ball at will whenever it ended up on the left side of the Bayern defense. Ten minutes of needling was all it took. Davies got turned around in his initial battle with Saka, teed up by Ben White to get the ball back. Dier could scarcely have been more accommodating, shaping his body as if to say to his opponent "go on, bend it round that". Saka duly obliged.

Had White found a way around Manuel Neuer to double the lead after 13 minutes it would be no less than the hosts had merited. Storm drains have put up more defense than the Bayern left, which will be missing Davies for the second leg after an early booking. Again and again Arsenal forced the opposition build up in that direction, Havertz placing himself between the ball and Matthijs De Light whenever Manuel Neuer looked to play out. For a while it seemed like every Bayern move would devolve to Dier punting in the direction of Harry Kane and Arsenal winning the first or second ball. By the second half the England captain was lucky to avoid a straight red for a cynical thump on Gabriel, against whom he had had precious little joy.

Still, the long balls Bayern were forced into could pay off with the help of Arsenal. David Raya came hurtling out to claim one that Gabriel seemed to have in his control, seemingly spooking the No.6. A misplayed pass to Jakub Kiwior and his team mates were stuffed. All that was required was for Sane, Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry to execute. They did so.

Those moments betrayed the nerves of a side who are still coming to terms with the biggest occasions, particularly over two legs. Neuer has been here often enough to relish the moment. Havertz wants to block off the pass to De Ligt? Fine, I'll volley it over him. Bayern were flying up the right with Sane, four players diving to steal the ball when all they needed was to guide him in the direction he was heading, towards the left corner. Instead Saliba made contact with the winger. Kane got his penalty, and before Arsenal could truly process it Bayern had two goals from all of two total shots, Arsenal's few mistakes punished to the maximum.

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That indiscretion of youth shone through in the remainder of the first half. Arteta dealt with it. Oleksandr Zinchenko's off ball work might bring the Emirates out in hives, but he is very capable of controlling the tempo. There were moments of indiscretion, but crucially when Bayern countered quickly they were running at the Arsenal back three from build up. Suddenly it was Gabriel covering Sane when it might have been Kiwior before. It was not long before Tuchel called for Coman.

Even if Arsenal had regained control, though, the cutting edge wasn't quite there. They seemed an attacker light. Again Arteta had a solution, Gabriel Jesus replacing Jorginho in a move that really got the best out of Havertz and fellow substitute Leandro Trossard. Initially the latter started as the left winger but the rotations were frequent, seemingly designed to give Havertz a mismatch at the back post against Joshua Kimmich. The added bonus of that was to get one of Arsenal's best finishers into the prime spots.

Jesus, meanwhile, played with a mania you could not have believed a professional footballer might be capable of the day after he has said he fears he might need a knee operation. He twisted and turned, dragging defenders his way and from Trossard. Jesus' pass was perfect, the finish precise. The Emirates erupted.

It might have been better. There were hectic moments at the other end, a dangerous chance at the near post for Coman, but Arsenal controlled the latter stages. With seconds left Saka claimed a pass in behind before Neuer, whose clearing boot clattered into the forward. Had Saka put a leg out to bait the penalty? The indignant reaction of Arsenal's usually implacable starboy at the final whistle would suggest otherwise.

Perhaps it also spoke to the overwhelming sense that this might have been a more unforgettable night. Arsenal had their chances and might have controlled the game better anyway. They can be better in Bavaria. Can Bayern be much worse? Either way, a repeat of this performance should be enough. If they cannot do so, what a missed opportunity this will feel like.