An uninspired start helped doom Arsenal to a 3-1 home loss versus Monaco, and now Arsene Wenger’s Gunners are 90 minutes away from a fifth-straight Round of 16 exit from the UEFA Champions League.
How does this happen, a sloppy and wasteful performance from a team that has everything to play for? How can a club like Arsenal, still searching for its first UEFA Champions League title, sleepwalk into a home match against its manager’s former club?
The Gunners were shocking for much of the night. The passing was largely off, and at least one good pass was dummied for no one in particular. Geoffrey Kondogbia was given loads of space on the first goal, Per Mertesacker was victimized badly on the second and the third, which came moments after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had provided Arsenal a stoppage time lifeline, sunk the ship.
All this without mentioning Olivier Giroud’s awful miss on a second-half sitter, one of several poor plays by the normally-efficient striker.
What happened, Arsene? From Sky Sports:
“The third goal makes our task extremely difficult in the second leg. It looks like we lost our nerve and our rationality on the pitch. The heart took over the head and that doesn’t work. Mentally we were not sharp enough to get into the game, and we paid for it.
“In the first 20 minutes we could have won the game, but Monaco are strong physically. We missed our chances – look at the number we missed tonight. At that level we cannot afford to do that.
“I hope my players were not complacent, but it looks when you are lacking sharpness that anything is possible. Football is not on paper, it’s down to your performance. On the night Monaco produced a performance and we didn’t.
“Giroud had an off night tonight and he missed easy chances. It looked like it was not one of his best days.”
There simply are no excuses for Wednesday’s performance, and the only proper remedy for Arsenal supporters would be a miraculous turnaround next month in Monaco. But can Arsenal really go on the road and put three past a stingy club that has allowed two total goals seven UCL matches? Probably not.