Match Review - Arsenal 1 Monaco 3 - Champions League
This is not a team of kids, not a team lacking experience at the highest level so why Arsenal took a shotgun and blew our foot off is beyond me.
It was an absolutely horrific evening for Arsenal. We started exactly as I hoped we would, quickly. Welbeck turned on a pass and fired over, Alexis placed an Özil cut back over the bar and a Santi cut back was missed by the Arsenal attack. It looked like we were heading in the right direction but then that attacking burst dried up and Monaco slowly started getting back into the game. The French team had weathered Arsenal's early storm and then hit us with a sucker punch. Geoffrey Kondogbia given enough space in midfield to head towards the Arsenal penalty box and smash a left footed shot which deflected off Per Mertesacker and wrong footed Ospina in the Arsenal goal.
Goals against the run of play can happen, freak goals that wrong foot the keeper is part of the game, but what you don't do in a 2 legged tie is do what Arsenal did in the 54th minute of the match. We pushed everyone forward accept for Koscielny who was left defending against 3 Monaco players on the break
What is this? Why are we doing this again? It was bad enough earlier in the season against Manchester United but at least the players had the excuse that time was running out. It's the 54th minute of the first leg! There is another match to go.
I don't want to point the finger at Per Mertesacker who has been fantastic for us since he joined the club but I am going to point the finger at Per Mertesacker. He is the captain, the organiser of this team, it is his responsibility to be in the right place and tell the younger defenders where to be. If he was going forward then Gibbs and Bellerin should have been behind the ball. That goal was the killer, the goal that gave Monaco massive belief in what they were doing and the goal that plummeted our confidence even further.
Just as frustrating on the night was our finishing. Oliver Giroud will not have another night like he did last night again. Everything went wrong for him and that is a shame because he has been in excellent form of late. It felt like every negative action impacted on the next one and it continued that way until he was replaced for Theo Walcott. Some of his missed chances were astonishing, especially the open goal after Alexis had his shot saved by the keeper.
It was typical of our evening when Theo had a chance to score but his shot hit the diving keeper and the ball fell perfectly for Danny Welbeck to tap into an empty net but his shot hit Theo on the floor who prevented a certain goal. A goal at that point and the tie could have looked very different this morning.
Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Coquelin who for some reason ditched his sitting duties kept pushing forward and losing the ball. Ox looked dangerous but also very rusty in possession. He was totally hit and miss which is no surprise given it's his first taste of action for a few weeks now.
One pass through to Walcott was almost inch perfect, his runs from the middle were dangerous and yet he gave the ball away in a very dangerous area before making a recovery tackle in the box. Chamberlain was still to have two significant parts to play in the rest of the game. In stoppage time, Chamberlain took the ball outside of the penalty area, dummied his man and curled excellently past the keeper for 1-2.
The Arsenal boys obviously spurred on by adrenaline wanted to score the equaliser, I know I was screaming them on from my living room waking up my young son in the process but we lost our heads and either gave away needless fouls or went direct too often (looking at you Alexis!)
Chamberlain tried to drive forward but got the ball caught under his feet and we were punished on the break once more. 1-3 and probably goodnight to the tie. At 1-2 there is always a chance of a good performance turning that around but 3 away goals is a hurdle too far unless we put in a performance we haven't seen in a long, long while.
If I could sum up the night in one word it would have to be stupid. Stupid decisions, stupid finishing, stupid defending and a stupid result.
This is going to sting the players, let's hope they can pick themselves up and fast.
You can catch the post match Q&A here and the Podcast will be recorder this evening. Should be up tonight.