Arsenal 1 – 3 AS Monaco
0 – 1 Kondogbia (39)
0 – 2 Berbatov (54)
1 – 2 Oxlade – Chamberlain (90)
1 – 3 Ferreira – Carrasco (90+3)
Yes, the wheels on bus do indeed go round and round. I know this because Arsenal’s bounced past the window before disappearing down the hill as the Champions League bus crashed unceremoniously to the ground. It was, Brian, a night of stunning ineptitude.
All the talk beforehand was of how lessons of previous crushing first leg defeats had been learned. Monaco would find Arsenal a different proposition. Instead, we saw the repeat of the ineptitude which was the hallmark of the defeat in Milan and the porous defending which Bayern took full advantage of. It was all too stunningly and depressingly familiar.
The defending was so bad that Arsène referred to it as suicidal. It was a performance which he thought the players hearts ruled their minds. It wasn’t even that good; it was brainless and spineless. Above all else, it was a night where all the myths were laid bare. It isn’t money which stops Arsenal competing for the Champions League, it isn’t even unfavourable draws. It’s much more ingrained in the club’s psyche than that.
It’s hard to argue with the substitutions Arsène made. I’m just amazed he could make his mind up; there were eleven candidates, all putting forward a strong case for their replacement. Olivier Giroud decided to have a woeful night in front of goal and was hauled off. He is the one who was the focus of the media’s attention but he was far from being the only guilty party.
And whilst the forwards were a problem, the defence was even worse. Arsène pointed to Per Mertesacker turning away from the shot for the opening goal which is to a degree, nit-picking. The back four were much more naïve and disorganised than they have been all season.
On the second and the third goal we were suicidal. We had the luck to come back to 2-1 but not the right to give away a goal the way we did
That sums up how bad Arsenal were. Arsène, a man who is unrelentingly positive about the side (although he has to be in public), thought it was luck that the players hauled themselves back into the tie as the game moved in injury time. I dare say what he really thought about the staggering stupidity of conceding the third minutes later is unprintable.
I understand the desire to retrieve a two-goal deficit and having halved it, why the players were eager to level the scores. But they forgot that the complexion of the tie had already changed, the result needed to progress was so much more achievable and the belief that they needed so much easier to instil. Now they must attack more ruthlessly than before as well defending more disciplined than they have managed. Do you seriously believe they can do that? I don’t.
This was a Monaco team which struggles to score more than once each league match and had amassed a total of four from six group games. It’s only the third time this season they had scored three times; Rennes and Bastia were the other reckless parties. To put Arsenal’s task into context, only Bordeaux have scored three times against Monaco this season and that was in the second Ligue Un game of the season. Scoring three without reply? On the basis of last night? What possible case can anyone put forward for that?
If you wondered how to approach such a match, Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim told it like it is,
Football is an art, defending and attacking. It is difficult to score a lot of goals in the Champions League, but we were able to take advantage of the space Arsenal gave us.
Simple really, isn’t it. And it makes you wonder why Arsenal didn’t approach the game in the same way. I can understand one or two players being off-key but none of the fourteen on the pitch can hold their heads high, none of them.
It’s down to bad preparation. It looked as if they were complacent, a charge Arsène struggled to deny,
I hope not. I hope not. It looks like that when you don’t have that kind of sharpness. Anything is possible – it’s very difficult to say that straight after the game.
The problem is that this is a performance that you knew Arsenal had in them. Recent weeks have been unconvincing in part, this dragged all their failings into one bad night at the office. The trouble is, I expect them to have more this season. We saw in the last fifteen minutes at Selhurst Park how timid they can be in defence and god knows Leicester caused enough problems recently.
Rising to third place ought to have given them confidence. Instead, it bred arrogance, a sense they think it’s their right to be in that position. It overlooks that they relied on the failings of others as much as their own ability to get where they are. Is it a false position? Last night’s performance would indicate that to be the case.
Ordinarily you can take some positives from a defeat, see that there was something to work with but there’s nothing from this one worth looking at in such a light. Whatever passion the players have for the game was noticeable by its absence yesterday. And don’t mention pride in playing for Arsenal; they had none.