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Monday 16 March 2015

Monaco: Can We Do It?

So it's the evening before our second leg tie against Monaco, in which we trail 1-3 from the first leg at the Emirates. Isn't that the most Arsenal thing ever? We should be out of the competition but it feels as though we could still go through. A lot of people, including myself, felt that after the game we were out and that was it, but all of a sudden with the injection of confidence from beating United and sailing through on that wave crest to comfortably dispatch West Ham, optimism is building. We are of course up against history in that no team, in it's current format has ever gone through needing more than one away goal, but what was that I was saying about stats in this morning's post? Oh yea they don't really matter; what really matters is winning 3-0, not whether it has happened before, remember everything has to be done for the first time. So, why not this? 

I think we can do it, although they beat us 1-3 in the first game I still felt that they weren't really that special, no disrespect to Monaco. We had a really poor night. The players looked nervous, we couldn't string more than 5 passes of the ball together and Giroud couldn't score we just couldn't score. Mertesacker had a horrible game, our attackers were anonymous, the stadium seemed flat; basically everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. In fairness, Monaco did counter very well; but it's easy to do that against a team who couldn't score no matter how many chances they had and also had their slowest defender pushing up as a midfielder. Any team in the world could have bet us that night.

I just hope tomorrow that we go through, because I have had enough of this heroic losing nonsense; there is no heroic loss against Monaco. If we go out and beat them 0-2, so what? It's not like we beat the team that's going to go on and win the tournament, again no offence intended. The loss against Monaco hit me harder than even the 0-6 thrashing away to Chelsea last season; it was a horrible night and it seems to have equally hurt the rest of the fan base. No, I didn't expect to beat Monaco easily at all, there defensive record speaks for itself, but I did expect it to be a close two legged affair, with maybe one goal in the difference, I certainly didn't expect either team to be virtually out of the competition after the first leg.

I had high hopes for this seasons European campaign, not necessarily that they would win it, but that we would put in a good showing. I can accept losing to a better team, but I just don't accept what happened three weeks ago, it wasn't good enough. It's time for the players to stand up now and give the fans the result they deserve.

Our away fans have been excellent again this season, (the fact that Spurs couldn't sell there allocation on a Sunday afternoon and we managed to bring 9,000 on a Monday night to Old Trafford, speaks volumes), and they will all be out there again tomorrow night hoping we go through. The way I see it, we are out of the competition and we need to score at least 3 goals to qualify. I think that's the way the players should look at it. 

I really think that there is a good chance we could beat Monaco 3-0, think about it; forget the first leg ever happened, if we were playing them tomorrow in that first leg and won 3-0, would many people be that surprised? No I don't think so. Let's just go out there and get the result that I think we're more than capable of getting. After all, wouldn't that also be the most Arsenal thing ever?

Right that's it for today, I will be back tomorrow with a more conventional preview, so come back for that. Let me know what you think in the comments, i'm intrigued to hear people's opinion on the game tomorrow.

Follow me on twitter @Cosmic__Kid 
Have a good night,

Subjectively, Cosmic Kid.


  1. The three goals we scored against West Ham do more than match the standard for Tuesday; they raise a banner, a clarion-call for us to do the same and more. Against lesser opponents, we've done far more and with far less at stake. Against Monaco, we can, should, and must go one more than we have against Bayern and AC Milan. We have a chance to stand alone as the only English club to advance to the Champions League quarter-final (okay, okay, so Man City still stand a chance...). Along similar lines, we've climbed to within one point of second place in the Prem, and we are alone among the top-four in continuing to compete in the FA Cup. Man City? Teetering on the brink in both the Champions League and the Prem, ousted from the FA Cup in the Fourth Round Proper by, um, Middlesbrough if that rings any bells. Chelsea? Ousted from the Champions League rather ignominiously by PSG despite nabbing that 1-1 draw at the Parc de Princes and beaten badly by Bradford. Man U, of course, had no Champions League matches this season and were dumped from the FA Cup by none other than Arsenal, and they trail us in the Prem by one precious point.

    On one hand, we clearly cannot count our eggs before they hatch. On the other, we must go into Tuesday's clash believing—nay, knowing—that we have more than a snowball's chance in Hell. Monaco will likely show little interest in getting forward to score, so it will all be on us to carve out chances and make the most of them. If we can show anything that resembles the form we've shown in our last three or four matches, it will be Monaco who are wondering what went wrong. If there's a silver-lining to our first-leg feebleness, it's in the realization that we have nothing to lose. That, paired with the formidable form we've shown of late, might just be enough to manhandle Monaco.

    1. I won’t lie: there’s a part of me that looks at a 3-0 result as far from impossible. Unlikely, yes, but not outrageously difficult to achieve. So much can happen in football matches that if things go our way then it could happen. An early goal for us, a red card perhaps, and if they play as badly as we did when we were at home then you just never know. Stranger things have happened.

      It’s a very, very small part of me though. The more realistic side of me suggests that this is a game we can win, maybe make them a bit nervous along the way, but ultimately we’ll fall short of what’s required. It wouldn’t be any surprise to me at all if this was the most staid, boring 1-0 or 1-1 draw you ever saw.

      While so much of the focus is on what we’re going to have to do from an attacking point of view, the fact we also have to defend is being rather overlooked. We are going to have to go for it, which means pushing forward and, as the game goes on, leaving ourselves more and more exposed at the back. You don’t need a long memory to remember that Monaco are pretty efficient on the break and have the players to hurt us in those circumstances.

      I think they’ll be quite content to sit back and soak up pressure knowing their defensive record is good, as is their ability to use the spaces we’ll leave for them as we go goal hunting. To be fair, two of the goals they scored came off the back of individual errors from our players (and the first still looks iffy to me), so if we can avoid those then it won’t be as easy for the home side, but even so we’ll have to be aware.

  2. No away team has ever overturned a two-goal deficit in a Champions League knockout round match. Then again, no English team had won in the Bernabeu. Monaco’s home record is the second best in the Champions League, bettered only by Real Madrid. Yes, the same ones who call the Bernabeu home.

    To win, Arsenal will have to summon the spirit of performances where victories forged in the unlikeliest of circumstances. They need the free-scoring of trips to Turkey and they certainly need to forget that they have only kept a clean sheet three times in their last thirty or so away European matches.

    That’s a truly horrible record and the one fundamental flaw that stops me thinking that we will progress. At 1 – 2 in the first leg, I was confident that despite the calamitous performance, we could recover. 1 – 3 is such a difficult margin to overturn. Of course we can do it; we can win 7 – 0, it doesn’t mean to say we will. We can equally lose 5 – 1 but there’s no more guarantee of that than Arsenal winning by three goals.

    It’s a night when you can be relatively relaxed about the outcome. I’ve already accepted we’re out, anything more is a bonus. More than that, in fact. Less than expecting an exit from the competition isn’t possible so there’s nothing to lose. Except dignity.

    I don’t accept winning 2 – 0 is a glorious failure; how can it be after the first leg but the post-mortem can wait until it is needed. We want Arsenal to go out with some style, a brash attacking performance. It isn’t a night where they can hold back and be defensive for the first twenty minutes or so, that’s when they need to get doubts planted firmly into the minds of the Monégasque back four.

    Wariness comes from not being gung-ho, to have the calm experience to ensure that the back four is properly protected. Coquelin is pivotal in this. Graphics showed his average position against West Ham was almost on the centre spot. It’s the position that we expect a defensive midfielder to hold, one where there was a sense of adventure but it was wholly tempered and played out in his passing.

    Possession will be key. Monaco proved in the first leg to be vulnerable; Arsenal wasted chances and were punished efficiently. Can that type of rope-a-dope be reprised tonight? It’s a tall order, this time it is will be a case of starving Arsenal of space, banks of four or five lying deep to neutralise the runs; an all too familiar formation.

    They could surprise us and play unshackled but everything you sense from their players and coach is that they know they are in a good position and failure would be viewed as catastrophic. It’s this theme Arsenal must tap into and the sooner, the better.

    Olivier Giroud has been a focal point of the build-up to the match. He had possibly the worst night of his Arsenal career in the first leg, unceremoniously hooked from proceedings having made his own significant contribution to Danny Baker’s next DVD collection of football howlers.

    A man with a mission for the second leg? I hope so; he’s been in good form in the Premier League and needs to back up his manager’s assertions that his mental strength is such that he can cope with the disappointment. It’s a night when he needs to salvage his reputation with the French footballing public, to prove his worth to Les Bleus.