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A few thoughts on the Monaco away Champions League match

March 21, 2015

I thought I would wait a few days before blogging on this match. I wanted to first see how the other European fixtures went involving English clubs went.

Arsenal losing 1-3 at home to Monaco and giving that last-minute goal away was always going to make the return match tough as Monaco don’t concede many goals on their own turf. Arsenal also have a habit of messing up first leg matches yet almost, I say almost making up the deficits in the second leg. Milan, Barcelona, Bayern, Bayern and now Monaco. I don’t think Arsenal have played well in any of their previous nine Champions League games this season, at best here have been moments and patches in each, but overall, it’s been pretty average.

Not being one of the lucky supporters to be out in Monaco, I watched the game on ITV (Zzzzzzzzz) I don’t usually watch until the game starts but I wanted to see just how many Arsenal supporters were at the match and take in some of the atmosphere, not that ITV panned into them. Right from when the intro died out and the pundits were introduced it was let’s find a way to slag off Ozil, with that little Ginger twerp the main culprit who digs himself into such a deep hole. You can almost sense in his voice he wanted Ozil to make a mistake with every touch of the ball so it made his agenda work.

A good turn out from the Arsenal away support. Arsene went with: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal (Gibbs), Coquelin 7 (Ramsey), Cazorla, Ozil, Welbeck (Walcott), Sanchez, Giroud. Bellerin back in for Chambers. Cazorla was back in for Ramsey and Welbeck back in for Walcott.

Like a lot of Arsenal supporters my heart was saying the team could over turn the deficit but my head was saying otherwise. Apart from a stale first ten minutes from both sides, Arsenal sprung into life. Giroud was hustle, bustle, good touches and showing a willingness to make up for those first leg missed chances. Danny Welbeck was also showing a willingness to run at Monaco and strong with it, though at times his touch is letting him down. Cazorla and Ozil were class, neat passing, great control and good use of the ball. Sanchez maybe trying a tad too hard was giving the ball away a bit, but defenders cannot rest when he is about. Two good goals from Giroud and Ramsey.

Having control of the game Arsenal’s defence did not really have that much to do, but they kept disciplined, did what they had to and Koscielny showed what a great defender we have. Bellerin is coming along nicely. Coquelin carried on his good form until Arsene decided to make a tactical change having to look for the goals Arsenal needed. Ramsey also carried on his good form since returning from injury also bagging a goal, maybe should have had another but did not shoot when he should have. My only issue on the night was Arsenal’s passing the ball across the area in the last ten minutes which I felt was wasting our own time. I know there is a thing called patience in football but when you need a goal and time is running out you have to take chances by getting the ball in the box hoping the ball falls kindly and taking a few shots.

I felt the whole team busted a gut going for the result and though I can’t say I was proud of the team as overall they went out, I sure as hell was impressed with the performance on the night.  I’d like Arsenal to win the Champions League, of course I would, what Arsenal supporter wouldn’t yet I know it might sound it’s easy for me to say as we went out, but honestly I’m never really that bothered when we go out of the Champions League. I’d be more bothered if we lost to Newcastle or failed to win the FACup when we are clearly the best team left in the Cup

After the game I took some comfort from Arsenal’s recent form where our only defeat in the last ten games was the home game against Monaco, yet winning the other nine. Arsenal are in a purple patch, with few players of note injured. I also thought the game against Monaco was Arsenal’s most complete of the season and there were positives to be taken from it

Arsenal played well as a team for a large part of the match and not in a short couple of ten or fifteen minute spells which is how the season has been going so far. As each game passes Arsenal look to picking up and improving as a team. What with Chelsea looking tired and Manchester City looking a shadow of a team right now, Arsenal could possibly sneak second in the table and at least close the gap on Chelsea (who I think will just have enough to stay at the top). There is also the matter of a second FACup trophy on the horizon. So all is not all lost just yet.

I understand Arsenal need to be in the Champions League for the money side of things but for me that’s mainly what the competition is about money. The Champions League should be just that “The Champions” not the top three or four. Maybe my age is showing here but I preferred the old style Europe, European Cup, Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup. However, domestic football trophies are what I want first every time. Champions League or Europa League are a bonus. It’s getting that every season three or four of the usual suspect clubs are reaching the last eight. The likelihood is that three of those will reach the last four. What used to be something special playing Europe’s top sides happens now every season at some stage.

Of the English clubs involved in Last season’s Champions League Manchester United took home the most money from the pot, thirty-five million pounds. Well the season after next the bottom team in the Premier League will get ninety-million pounds, so maybe the English clubs will not be so reliant for Champions League money as the fourth placed club in the Premier League would get around one-hundred and forty-two million pounds and be able to outbid most clubs in Europe. Maybe then the English clubs will rise again.

So in amongst all the angst of Arsenal’s exit from the Champions League we can see that last week Chelsea went out to PSG on Aggregate. This week Manchester City went out of the Champions League to Barcelona for the second season running. Liverpool got knocked out of both the Champions League and the Europa Cup. Liverpool finishing third in their group behind Real & Basle, then going out to Besiktas in the Europa League. Spurs went out of the Europa League to Fiorentina. Everton went out of the Europa League to Dynamo Kiev. None of the English clubs did well this year. I make no excuses for Arsenal as I said I don’t think Arsenal played well over most of the ten games this season. Yet over the two legs against Monaco, I thought Arsenal deserved to go through, a moment of naivety cost us again.

I still don’t get some Arsenal supporters moaning about our manager right now. Some still hark on about getting rid of Arsene or that he should leave. Would anyone really get rid of him right here,right now?  Arsenal are on a very good run and yes it was one poor defeat in ten that got us knocked out of the Champions league. I was more on the side of Arsene leaving earlier this season, but Arsene hasn’t left and the club are not going to get rid of him just yet, so I just have to get behind him and the team for now.

I’m firmly a believer of what will be will be and managers/players come and go. Arsene’s time will be up at some stage, but moaning about him now when we still could have twelve games left and a trophy (or two?) is crazy.No matter how much you moan about Arsene, nothing, I repeat nothing is going to happen till June so the supporters might as well simply support the club and pick up the debate about the manager when Arsenal’s season is over, should that be sooner or later. I know most will, but I still have a sneaky feeling some would rather it all went Pete Tong so Arsene left or was sacked.











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