Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Konscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Cazorla, Sanchez, Ozil, Welbeck, Giroud
Subs: Szczesny, Gabriel, Chambers, Monreal, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott
Arsenal put in one of the most dire performances of recent times to go down 3-1 to an injury hit Monaco side. After we failed to capitalise on a bright opening 10 minutes and a poor performance from Giroud who missed a number of clear cut chances, they scored just before and just after the half time whistle to put themselves 2 nil up. After much huffing and puffing the Ox finally pulled one back for us in injury time, only for another Monaco counter attack to kill the game, 3-1.
Pre Game: Kieren Gibbs and Hector Bellerin returned to the side after the weekends game against Palace. From Coquelin forwards we kept the same team, carrying on with Welbeck and Sanchez on the flanks and spearheaded by Giroud.
First Half: Arsenal started the game brightly with an early chance in the first 2 minutes for Welbeck after he turned his man on the edge of the area, but he wasn’t able to find the finish. Within 5 minutes we were passing brightly in and around their final third, and neat work from Cazorla almost played in Giroud and then quickly after almost set up a cross for Welbeck straight after.
A fantastic long range quarter back style pass from Sanchez almost found Ozil, but he couldn’t latch onto it, and with the resulting short corner another Sanchez cross almost found Giroud but was just too high.
After that the game settled down for a bit, Monaco really posing no threat at all but equally with Arsenal finding no rhythm. Then in the 20th minute, after good harrying down their right side, we won a corner that Giroud headed just wide, but really throughout chunks of the half the game our attack seemed to linger without any intent.
After that dreary spell, Ozil found Sanchez on the edge of their box but he tried to chip the keeper when really a direct shot would’ve been more effective. Then after Monaco managed to bundle through Bellerin down our right hand side they found Moutinho with a cross but his acrobatic volley blasted well over.
In the 36 minute our best chance of the half occurred. A great touch from Sanchez gave some space to Cazorla, who fed Bellerin down their right but his cross was met by a poor attempt that went well over.
As is expected now when Arsenal don’t capitalise, the opposition scores. After Welbeck was mugged on the half way line Kondogbia ran towards goal on and his speculative shot deflected off Mertesacker and left Ospina rooted to the spot. 1-0. After that we never looked any more purposeful than we had in the first 10 minutes and went into the break one nil down.
Second Half: Arsenal again started extremely brightly when Sanchez pipped it past their defender on their right in the opening minute but Giroud couldn’t convert his cross.
On the 51st minute Cazorla won a free kick in a dangerous position, and a perfectly executed cross resulted in Giroud heading over when he really should’ve done better. Then, again, when we fail to capitalise, Arsenal concede.
Mertesacker makes a crazy decision to commit way too high up the pitch that results in a 2 against 1, a pass is given to Berbatov, of all people, who converts with a drilled shot past Ospina. 2 nil, and so Arsenal it hurts.
Then on the 56th minute, Giroud compounded his terrible game with the miss of the game. A lovely bit of work from Sanchez meant he gave himself space to drill a stinging shot that rebounded in front of goal to Giroud but he somehow contrived to blast over from 6 yards out. That was his last impact on the game as he was subbed on the 59th minute for Walcott.
Then on the 60th minute we should’ve been 3 nil down as a lovely backheel from Moutinho in our box set up another one on one but Ospina was out smartly to block.
Then another great chance went unconverted as Walcott almost bundled it past the keeper, and then the follow up fell to Welbeck but he blasted straight at Walcott who was lying on the floor and it flew over.
We kept looking extremely nervous at the back though, and more anxious defending from Konscielny almost result in another Monaco chance but they over worked it.
We subbed Coquelin off for the Ox on 69th minute, and his impact was almost immediately felt when he provided a through ball for Walcott but it was just too far for his reach.
More atrocious passing at the back almost resulted in Moutinho getting through on goal but the Ox made a last ditch sliding tackle.
It seemed at this point our main idea for attack was playing a through ball to Walcott to run on to, but they seemed wise to that and kept countering with aplomb.
Around that time their fans began the ‘Ole’ chants, which really stung. On the 80th minute we subbed Cazorla for Rosicky, and soon after Sanchez fluffed his shot off the back of a corner when he usually would’ve done so much better.
After much consternation, a Sanchez corner in the 90th minute fell to the Ox on the outside of the box and he curled a lovely shot into the top corner. 1-2.
Then as is now expected of Arsenal, anything good is quickly followed by something terrible, and a quick counter after lost possession by the Ox resulted in a third goal for Monaco.
The result almost entirely kills our hopes to progress to the next round, after what was one of the easiest draws we’ve had in over 5 years. The same flaws just keep appearing in our team.
Report by @williamwasteman