Dream Draw Turns into Nightmare for Arsenal in Champion’s League


Wow.  This one really hurts.  Personally, this result caught me totally unaware and I can’t be the only one. Regardless, here we go.

Arsenal welcomed Monaco to the Emirates on Wednesday and started the match really well out of the gates.  They played very encouraging getting the ball forward, creating chances, and totally outclassing the Ligue 1 side.

Danny Welbeck had a chance in the first couple of minutes which he probably should have done better with. Mesut Ozil was in on a goal a couple of times, and Bellerin looked great coming in on the right.  This run of play would only last about 15 minutes though and it was all downhill from there.

Arsenal FC
Arsenal FC /

Arsenal FC

From that point on it seemed that Arsenal just lost all signs of life.  The passes began to be more sideways and backwards as Monaco’s pressing play really seemed to unsettle the Gunners.  Alexis did have a chance around the 30th though when Ozil found him just inside the box, but the pass was a tad behind him and the ball soared just over the crossbar.

Arsenal’s best chance of the half came about 35 minutes in.  Alexis took the ball across the field from right to left, found Bellerin with a fantastic back heel who then got forward and put a nice low cross into the box.  Unfortunately though, this cross fell to the feet of Olivier Giroud who sent it over the crossbar, a bad omen of what was to come for him on the night.  

Only minutes later Monaco found the opener as their patience was rewarded. Moutinho dribbling down Monaco’s right and found Geoffrey Kondogbia in a central position about 30 yards out.  Kondogbia then did the unthinkable and let one fly.  The next thing you know it’s in the back of the net.  It caught Ospina totally off guard and his feet were nailed to the pitch.  On a second glance though it was a bit of bad luck as it took a wicked deflection off the chest of Per Mertesacker. Not to take anything form the french midfielder, but it really was a bad bit of luck.

The rest of the half was rather uneventful besides a rather soft yellow for Coquelin.  Arsenal seemed to have had the wind knocked out of them and went into the half trailing 0-1 to the visitors.

Arsenal started the second half just like the first with some high octane attacking play, but this didn’t even last as long as the promising spell in the first and started to fizzle after about only 5 minutes.  These first few minutes did see Arsenal have another good chance on goal though.  Alexis did well dribbling to the right side of Monaco’s 6 yard box and pulled one back to the middle.  Sadly it fell to the feet of Giroud and he once again failed to find the net.

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Only a couple of minutes after that Arsenal had yet another chance.  Santi Cazorla swung in a free kick from about 35 yards and did it with a really nice delivery.  The ball found Giroud on a great run and he then had a free header.  Normally headers are a forte of the big Frenchman, but as with everything else on the night he botched the chance and sent it over the crossbar.  

Even worse, Monaco would bag their second almost immediately after.  

In the 53rd minute the Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour intercepted a pass in their own box and began to bring the ball forward. He found some space around midfield.

At this point, Mertesacker, instead of tracking back with his man decided to stay up the pitch and try to win the ball back.  He couldn’t win the ball though and left the Arsenal defense totally exposed.  Laurent Koscielny did the best he could but he was outnumbered 2 against 1 versus Martial and Berbatov.  Martial then played in the ex-Sp*rs man who calmly slotted it home from about 10 yards out.  A shocking bit of defending from Mertesacker and Monaco just took advantage.

Only moments after the second goal Arsenal surely should have equalized if not for Olivier Giroud once again.  Alexis let loose a powerful shot from outside the box and all the Monaco keeper could do was push it back into the box.  The deflected shot fell right to the feet of Giroud who then…..sent it straight over the crossbar.  In what was surely the best chance of the night, Giroud somehow found a way to miss.  Almost immediately after Giroud was saved from any more embarrassment and was substituted for Theo Walcott.  

Walcott almost had an instant impact around the 64th.  Alexis came through the central midfield and found Walcott with a through ball into the box.  Walcott’s shot only found the chest of the opposing keeper though and the shot was once again parried to the feet of an Arsenal player – Danny Welbeck.  Welbeck then did his best Giroud impression and with the help of a deflection from Theo Walcott’s rear end, sent the shot over the cross bar.

From this point on Arsenal really struggled to create many chances.  They certainly went for it, bringing on both Chamberlain and Rosicky, but they just couldn’t get the end product. That is, not until the 91st minute.

“I think our weakness was more down to mentality. We rushed our game. We were too impatient…We were suicidal defensively”  – Arsene Wenger

 In the 91st a deflected Mesut Ozil cross found Chamberlain about 25 yards out.  Chamberlain shed his defender, came up to edge of the box and curled in a real beauty to the upper corner.  It was just what the doctor ordered for Arsenal.  It gave us a glimmer of hope for the away leg.

If only the scoreline had remained until the final whistle.

With Arsenal smelling blood they really pushed forward in the final minutes and were punished mercilessly in the 94th.  Chamberlain lost the ball to Moutinho just over the halfway line and with most of the Arsenal team up the pitch, Moutinho saw the late sub Carrasco running forward and found him in acres of space.  Carrasco sent his shot low and away to the far post and Ospina didn’t get enough on his save to stop it as he dove in the opposite direction.  

And so the match finished 3-1 to Monaco.

I think our night can be summed up by the phrase ‘missed opportunities.’ On a match scale we clearly didn’t take our chances when we had them and often times, when you don’t take your chances, you don’t win games.  On a grander stage, this draw against Monaco was certainly a good opportunity to advance in the champions league and that was squandered as well.  

After getting draw after draw against Bayern, Barcelona, and even Milan when they still had the likes of Ibrahimovic, and Thiago Silva it seemed like things were finally going our way.  I don’t know if the Monaco side were just completely underestimated or if it was something else that made Arsenal look so bad, but a terrible Arsenal team got what they deserve in Europe with a terrible result in what was supposed to be a dream draw.

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