Arsenal’s super form continues winning at all levels of competition, but sometimes you might just have to pay harshly for your past mediocrity and that is exactly why the gunners will not progress to the next stage of the UEFA Champions league.
Tasty side, Monaco. Well organised, disciplined, brave, resolute. The region may be famous for speculation and bold gambles, but Jose Mourinho would be proud of the side produced by his compatriot Leonardo Jardim.
This was a pragmatic, impressive display against a team who knew they needed three goals and threw all they had at that task in the second half.
It was horribly tense for Monaco once Aaron Ramsey scored Arsenal’s second with 11 minutes to go but, once again, in this competition Arsene Wenger’s team lost it in the first leg.
That third away goal at the Emirates Stadium was the killer. It was the one Wenger’s players could not match.
Monaco knew they had done the hardest yards in London and ultimately settled for heroic defeat.
It was like watching one of Nick Faldo’s fourth-day specials.
They played to par, laid up at the big one, didn’t take the course on, and won.
As Arsenal threw more at it with the minutes slipping away, Monaco pressed forward and substitute Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco nipped one across the face of goal that could have ended the contest there and then.
Instead, Arsenal were left with hope right until the end, a goal short of the last eight.
It is the hope that does for you in the end, of course. It probably would have hurt less to have lost both legs.
The goal that brought Arsenal to the brink of one of the greatest fightbacks in Champions League history came in the 79th minute after Theo Walcott hit a post with a side-footed shot.
A rare moment of blind panic saw full back Layvin Kurzawa clear horribly straight to Ramsey. He took a touch and struck it low into the far corner.
Cue pandemonium in the closing stages, not least when referee Svein Oddvar Moen, from Norway, signalled a generous period of five minutes additional time.
Yet, really, Arsenal did little with it. They lumped it in, Monaco hoofed it out. Predictably, Monaco’s hoofs were better than Arsenal’s lumps.
It is really not their game. Nor is the high-tempo, high-energy, gung-ho rollercoaster that was Tottenham Hotspur’s famous comeback against Inter Milan in the San Siro, a repeat of which may just have rattled the French side.
Four goals and a goalkeeper down at half-time, Tottenham pulled it back to 4-3 and would surely have drawn level had they not run out of time.
From there, however, the game began to progress along familiar lines, Arsenal in the ascendancy, Monaco retreating to massed ranks of stout defence.
For a while it looked as if they were more than capable of holding out — Monaco are a tight defensive unit with that most old-fashioned of qualities, a couple of big units who don’t mind putting a foot in — but Arsenal got a breakthrough after 36 minutes.
It was Danny Welbeck who set up the goal, driving forward and slipping his final pass to Giroud, who was left with only Subasic to beat.
Giroud’s shot was blocked, but the ball rebounded and struck him on the shoulder.
With Subasic stranded on the floor, Giroud reacted quickest and after scanning the immediate area, seized on the loose ball, rifling it into the roof of the net with Monaco’s covering defenders helpless.
After his travails in the first leg hooked by Wenger to utter derision, having missed enough chances to put Arsenal in the quarter-finals this was a perfect response.
He had at least guaranteed to outstrip the two marks out of ten he previously received from French newspaper L’Equipe.
Just two minutes later, Arsenal could have been further ahead.
Alexis Sanchex hit a cross which was cleared under pressure from Giroud and fell to Welbeck whose shot was blocked, sprawling, by Abdennour.
Even then, it spun and almost squeaked over the line as Subasic scrambled to recover.
Sanchez was booked for diving, which seemed harsh it didn’t look like a foul, but not a dive either and Wenger may take a dim view privately of Ozil’s decision to swap shirts with Geoffrey Kondogbia at half-time.
Arsenal will now have to face their premier league and FA Cup matches in other to continue their trophy hunt and deliver at least a silverware to the ever expectant Emirates stadium faithfuls before they start calling for Wenger’s sack.
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