Seeing the Rich Kids from Monte Carlo lining up against The Young Boys from Turin this week really cheeses me off. Then I note that some blokes from a fortified wine growing region of Portugal are hosting The Bavarians, and suddenly the blood begins to boil.
However, what really makes me very most vexest of all, is seeing two teams lining up in Madrid. That was MY spring break right there. Either Team. Not bothered. Preferred Real, but whatever.
Just penning those two short paragraphs may give the impression I am an angry doomer. I am not. I am a happy person and all is well. I am, however, slightly concerned that a good many Gunners are more sensitive than I. Mood swingers, if you like. All is rosy then wallop, one Cup defeat, one League defeat and suddenly Arsenaldom is an unbearable hellhole.
How utterly depressed are you that Our Boys are not lining up tonight?
I am not depressed at all, just bloody furious, that’s all.
Ed: I’ve added this poll – just for amusement value 🙂
1. In the 164 European Cup games in which a team lost 1-3 at home in the first leg only two have gone on to win the tie.
2. In the Champions League knock out stages no team has ever overcome this deficit playing away. It has only been achieved when the team was at home for the second leg.
3. Arsenal have won their last 4 away and 8 of our last 9 PL games (12 of 14)
4. Monaco had 5 first team players missing in the first leg. Carvalho and Toulalan should return tonight.
5. Monaco have conceded only 7 goals in 14 home games in Ligue 1 this season and just 2 in 7 CL games.
6. Arsenal have scored every game bar one since Oct 2014
7. Arsenal have had 21 different goal scorers this season. We are awash with finishers.
8. If we lose tonight it will be the 5th year running we have not reached the quarter finals
9. Monaco are 1/10 on to go through and AFC 5/1 (Paddy Power). Yet AFC are favourites to win the game (13/10)
10. Arsenal have won only once on our last 6 visits to France (though Monaco is not in France is it?)
Right, that’s enough of that nonsense.
Looking at the above one would think it is a waste of time trying and Mr Wenger should select the entire Ladies team. If we are to go down in Monaco …. I leave the rest to you imagination ……
26 years ago we went to Anfield and won against the odds, We also did it when overcoming a 3-1 defeat in the final of the Inter Cities – that victory was in Black and White, but still a decade after Spurs last won the title 😀
The Stade Louis is hardly a hotbed of football fanaticism (the last time I was there was for an Eagles concert) and I expect there will be more Gooners than Monaco fans.
We have to score a few and quite frankly are as likely to score 4 or 5 as 3 so I look forward to a very attacking line -up. It is often said that in training Mr Wenger has the players switch positions so they understand the thinking required for a defensive or offensive position, as such Welbeck must be able to play CB if required. Santi is an ideal fullback; they are instructed not to tackle but to jockey and he has the perfect physique for such a job.
Cazorla Welbeck Coquelin Rosicky
Walcott Ramsey Ozil
Alexis Giroud Akpom
If we had more forwards available I would play them instead of Le Coq and Tomas.
I feel 56% confident of winning the game and 14% confident of winning the tie.
n.b. If any of the above stats are wrong, blame the internet and Margaret Thatcher.
written by Big Raddy
When the draw was made someone (no names mentioned but it was MickyDidit), told me that he would not go to Monaco because the away leg would be a dead rubber – he was right 😦
Essentially we were rubbish all over the pitch. It is all well and good Mr Wenger being furious at the lack of professionalism evidenced by having 10 players in the opposition half in the 93rd minute just after scoring what could have been a tie-saving goal, but who trains these blokes? If blame is to be apportioned then an equal measure sits on his shoulders.
We started well enough, pinging the ball around with our normal Emirates pace and efficiency; the game was open and enjoyable with both teams attacking. OG missed a couple of sitters, Santi was magical, the full backs were competing with the pace of the excellent Monaco wingers, then suddenly out of nowhere a man in blue takes a shot from 30 yards which deflects off BFG and deceives Ospina. Just what Mr Wenger warned about in his pre-match conference.
Then we lost the plot.
All out attack; BFG setting a very high line which totally played into the speedy Monaco forwards. Our forwards all decide to play through the middle encouraging our full backs to take the space on the wings and thus leaving acres of space at the back. The midfielders had no space to weave their magic. It all went to hell in a handcart.
Halftime I expected to see changes. We became even more gung-ho. Berbatov scored on a breakaway! A man who is already in his dotage and spends his days in a dressing gown, smoking a pipe and watching Emmerdale outpaced our defence!
There followed a baffling section of play. OG taken off having missed three more chances , Welbeck smashed an easy opportunity against a fallen Theo. Alexis got mad and was unlucky with a couple of efforts. The Ox scored and immediately allowed Monaco to turn the knife in the wound.
It was painful viewing. Thankfully, it was just one game in a season and to be honest losing to a poor MU at the Emirates was worse.
Perhaps the worst thing about last night was I fully expected us to thrash them, so did almost all the Arsenal fans, and unfortunately so did the Arsenal team. Monaco taught us a lesson and fair play to them – Monaco were excellent.
Ospina: Could have done better with the 3rd. IMO doesn’t inspire confidence 6
Bellerin: Seemed to play too far forward. Was he told to? As the junior player he needed guidance and support but didn’t get it 5
BFG: Very poor night. Directly responsible for two goals (the first not his fault). As Captain he should have controlled the defensive line and pace of the team – he didn’t 2
Koscielny: Not his best nor worst performance . One excellent header in the 1st half . Passes too slow to the MF’s 5
Gibbs: Too attacking, again probably told to be. Worked hard 4
Coquelin. Lost his defensive discipline. Booked as usual. Showed why we need a world class DM. 4
Cazorla: Glimpses of his magic but Monaco didn’t give him any space. Ineffective closer to goal. 5
Ozil: A passenger for over 90 minutes. His worst performance on an important night. Given his talent tit was simply not good enough 2
Alexis: As always worked very hard. Well marshalled by Monaco defence who always had 3 around him. Skewed a good chance wide. 6
Welbeck: Lots of effort, little result. 5
Giroud: Not his night but at least he was in a position to miss his chances. 4
Subs: Walcott : We looked more dangerous when he came on though Monaco were tiring 6
Rosicky: Had little opportunity to impress 5
Ox: Added verve when he came on. Scored a superb goal. Let himself down immediately after. 7
A hugely disappointing night to be a Gooner. That said, Monaco played a marvellous game, probably their best in recent years and deserve all the credit for their performance.
Onwards and Upwards
written by Big Raddy
Tonight Monaco will enter with trepidation into the steaming cauldron that is the Emirates on Champions League nights (a little sarcasm to start with is always good!). Should they be worried? Of course they should – We are The Arsenal.
However, we are playing Monaco side in fine form; they have only lost once since November and are rapidly climbing Ligue 1 as well as topping their CL group. These blokes are no mugs. A team based around a solid defence – they have only conceded two goals twice this whole season, Monaco have become a dour, dull team to watch evidenced by very poor attendances.
Expect to see this parked on the pitch
Monaco as we all know is a tax-haven and are unsurprisingly backed by Russian money. The buying policy which in 2013 brought in James, Falcao, Carvalho and others (￡140m+) has changed. The big money players have left, one to Real Madrid, another to the bench at Old Trafford as the club tries to bring through youth players alongside experienced but inexpensive talent. Could this be the result of FFP? A ground with an 18k capacity which averages 7k hardly generates enough money to afford Falcao let alone the rest of the squad. The new pragmatic approach both on and off the pitch seems to be working.
It will be lovely to welcome Berbatov back to London. Berbs should never have sullied himself by playing for Spurs. I wonder who has more pace, Mertesacker or Berbatov? It would be a close run thing!
So, a strong defence and workman-like midfield but little threat upfront. They have scored just 26 goals in 25 Ligue 1 games and only 4 goals in 6 CL games. This tells me that if we score twice tonight we will be Kushti.
And it is for this reason that Walcott should start tonight. Welbz is a fine player, he brings energy and awareness but he is not as dangerous as Theo and we need goals. Quite why Walcott was benched after scoring against Villa and Leicester is baffling; has he done something similar to Szczesny and has joined him on the naughty step? Perhaps it is something to do with his contract negotiations (AW showing Walcott is no longer essential to the squad). Whatever it is we need Theo tonight – he scores goals.
In my opinion, if Theo doesn’t start tonight he will be sold in summer; we have the brilliant Ox to find a place in the team and Walcott is the obvious man to leave.
Wilshere is out but I doubt he would have started because we need to be on the front foot from the start, I would play as many attacking players as possible. Bellerin ahead of Chambers and Gibbs on the left.
Bellerin BFG Koscielny Gibbs
Walcott Giroud Alexis
Bench: Rosicky, TPIG, Welbz, Flamini, Monreal, Paul Easter +
I don’t do tactics but I know this- scoring early is hugely beneficial, it forces Monaco to be less circumspect in their play which will hopefully create the spaces for Ozil to weave his magic. Alexis has gone 5 games without scoring and is hungry, Giroud is in fine scoring form. We have options.
Arsenal were delighted when the draw was made, Monaco seemed the best team we could have drawn. Tonight we will see whether our optimism was justified
written by Big Raddy