No Danny OR Theo but AR, AS, MO, SC and OG to live the dream? CL Match preview

AS Monaco – Arsenal  Match Preview

2nd Leg–Champions League Round of 16


To Dream the Impossible Dream or Tilting at Windmills?   Sancho Panza says, “Let’s Just Play Our Game, OK, Don Quixote…”

Belief (confidence) is a lovely thing, but sometimes it needs to be pushed aside and a game of football must simply be played.  As much as Arsenal are attempting to pump themselves up for an unprecedented come from behind 2nd leg against AS Monaco–where we will need no less than 3 goals in their stadium–it may be better to just play football and see what happens.

If only we had done that in the first leg...

So many Gooners, I believe, went into our round of 16 match-up with Monaco believing that the draw would give us a respite from those early eliminations we’ve experienced in recent years.  More than anything, I think, fans (and players perhaps) just wanted a reprieve from what I call Arsenal’s Champions League Conundrum–the fact that qualifying for a tournament we are (probably) not good enough to win is our primary objective each and every season.  Perhaps, having drawn one of the easier group winners, we might beat them and then ease ourselves into the eliminations.  A couple of more good draws, a bit of confidence and, who knows, anything can happen in tournament football.  It was a hopeful thought, at least.

Hope is not a plan, they say, and what did happen in the first leg happened at our expense.  Perhaps overly determined to give the home fans the experience they were seeking, Arsenal pushed too many men forward, found their own attacking spaces clogged, yet still made chances.  Those, however, were rushed and missed, mostly by our very in-form, center forward, Olivier Giroud.

Monaco slowly worked themselves into the game and found possession and space in our midfield.  A speculative effort from 35 yards by Geoffrey Kondogbia found our Captain, Per Mertesacker, unable to completely block nor completely remove himself from deflecting and the net bulged past our wrong footed keeper David Ospina.  The stadium was rocked–but not in a good way.  We played out the half but still could find no real pattern to our attack.  Monaco happily allowed us possession but still there was no space in the final third.  We can sort it at the break, thought the manager and players, perhaps.

Committed ideas about how to do so, however, may have been drowned out by the disappointment of the home crowd and their deep-seated desire for a better result.

In the 2nd half the pattern continued and, again, with too many men pushed forward, we were punished, this time by the vampire of White Hart Lane, Dimitar Berbatov. In retrospect, we were perhaps architects of our own downfall.  After all, a scoreline of nil-1 would have made tomorrow’s match far more manageable.

Even 2-nil would have been a better scoreline than what we face.  Still, it is not the job of the home support to realize that their role would end only at half-time of the 180 minute tie.  They wanted Arsenal to get some goals back and our tactics and substitutions suggested manager Arsene Wenger wanted the same.  It took even more spurned chances and all the way into injury time before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, in for holding midfielder, Francis Coquelin, got Arsenal on the board.  Nice.  1-2, and a hint of momentum to end the first leg.  Close up shop and get some goals at their place.  Instead, with hardly any time left, we wanted to reward the faithful who had stayed.  It was, maybe, a psychological trap and we fell right in.   In a blurred moment, our lads only saw positive outcomes and negatives were ignored.  Credit, however, must be given to the veteran Joao Moutinho and the young Monaco substitutes, Bernardo and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, who executed the counter-attack to perfection.  A stronger hand from Ospina might’ve spared blushes.  Instead we face a 3 goal mountain to climb.

But face it (and climb it) we must.  Play our game, keep moving in attack and use the technical abilties of our best players to try and get some goals.  In my opinion, there can be only one game plan and that is it.  We can give a goal and extend the match by half an hour, so, strangely enough, this one is not, necessarily, a defend-first sort of affair.  It’s a daunting task, no doubt, but clearly not beyond the realm of the possible.

It should be recalled, however, that Monaco are the stingiest of teams.  Since the beginning of December, in Ligue 1, they have conceded no more than 1 goal in any match, having done so only twice, keeping clean sheets in all the rest.  Before that, they qualified as winners of their CL group conceding only once.  Perhaps our best bet is that they’re so unfamiliar with allowing goals, that their confidence might be dented if they had to pick a ball out of their net.  Do it twice and it’s a double dent.

Now, I fear, the dream is on… Back to hard, cold reality.

For a change, reality at Arsenal isn’t all that bad.  It’s even possible we’ve turned a corner by coming back from that disappointing night with victories in the Premier League over Everton, QPR and West Ham, and with our FA Cup victory over Manchester United in their stadium.  In that stretch, using a group of 21 different players, the most important element has been a collective focus to get the job done.  It hasn’t always been perfect nor pretty, but it has worked.  Bring a similar focus, play our best group and don’t give up.  What more can we try?

For this one I would go with the following players: 

ars v monaco march 15

Subs: Szczesny, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini, Welbeck, Walcott, Akpom

To me, those are our best players, although I can imagine that many would-be-managers will have strong contrary ideas.  Theo Walcott’s pace might be the answer for some.  (Personally, he seems the ideal sub, late on, if we can narrow the deficit.)  Others might call for the tireless pressing of Danny Welbeck which worked a treat at Old Trafford and yielded the winning goal against his former club.  The drive and experience of Tomas Rosicky would be another, but I wonder if he’s fully fit, given that he failed to make the bench vs West Ham just a couple of days ago.  Others might stump for Kieran Gibbs at left back given his superior pace.  (The lovely opening goal at ManU from Nacho Monreal, however, tips the balance towards the Spaniard, I think.)  A wilder call would be to restore Wojchiek Szczesny to keeper given that our need for goals will surely find us exposed once or twice and he’s modelled his “sweeper-keeper” game on Mertesacker’s international team mate, Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer.

No matter who plays, Arsenal will need to keep the pitch spaced and somehow find a way to open up the well disciplined opponent.  Some longer attempts early on might be needed to suggest that Monaco cannot simply funnel our play towards a clogged middle.  Our preferred style of 1-2s near the top of the box , or less charitably, our penchant for wanting to “walk-it-in,” has to be alternated with pot shots from distance or selective use of a bit of wide play aimed at the towering hair of Olivier Giroud.  Monaco were very successful in the first leg playing a flat back four which worked to eliminate our wider options and encourage our over-eager attackers (including our fullbacks) towards the penalty box where central midfielders and defenders were waiting, leaving us overly exposed on the counter.  Given no real call to score they could even throw more bodies into the defensive mix.  There will be an urgency to get an early goal but we cannot get frustrated if the chances are difficult to come by.   If there’s any call for belief, it would be in believing that they will come.  When they do, taking those chances and getting on the scoreboard seems the more important bit.

I’m curious what others feel on this account.  As much as I’d like to believe that belief itself is what might allow us this opportunity to make a bit of history and go deeper in the tournament, I’m also content to put all that aside and just try and play our football–the thing we will actually need to do as we continue in whatever competitions we’re in.  Arsenal have strong players, and, if they play at their best, they can’t help but create a level of belief that even very fine teams can be broken down.  Fans want success so much that failure, oftentimes at least, is associated with not wanting it sufficiently.  The massive task we face, I think, is at least partially a result of too much desire in the first leg.  Now, needing 3 goals against a team which rarely gives one, simply “wanting it” will not do the trick.  Nope, in this case (and all others, in fact) we actually have to do it…

Go on then…

By 17highburyterrace


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73 Responses to No Danny OR Theo but AR, AS, MO, SC and OG to live the dream? CL Match preview

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Super post, 17, and how lucky I/we are to have you doing these dedicated and well thought out previews. 🙂

    I gotta be short, but I like your line up a lot. We need to hem them in and for that we need to play 4-5-1, the old, familiar way. Put them under pressure and add an attacking dimension when pinging the ball around the box…. totally bamboozle them with a high tempo and creative passing. We have a lot of good finishers in the team, so if we take the chances we will do it baby. We had a bad day at the office last time, which does not take anything away from Monaco’s fine defending. We have nothing to lose and are full of confidence… let the cannon roar 4x at least. COY Fecking Fabulous Gunners: Make Us Proud! 😛

  2. jnyc says:

    Nice job 17, as always….. TA, i love your attitude ! i think our boys know Its very possible.. We’ll see how it goes..
    Another rallying cry.. … Let’s do it to piss off Mourinho!

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    That is the line of the week, jnyc! Woudn’t it be fantastic?

  4. St. Henry says:

    Great preview 17! Very balanced and measured – as the likely squad you have suggested. 🙂 Given that Gabriel has traveled with the team, I wonder if playing him instead of Per might allow the team better cover at the back (especially if they are going to be pressing forward a bit more than usual).

    here’s hoping that we’ll see a performance that we’ll be talking about for years to come! 🙂

  5. 17highburyterrace says:

    Thanks, as always, for reading, folks… 🙂

    That is a great line, jync… 😀

    I’m not so optimistic given the incredible defensive record Monaco have forged this year. I didn’t check their domestic Cup record but in their league and the CL they haven’t conceded two, let alone 3 for several months. I think we will get chances but we will have to be more clinical than usual… I do think there’s a good feeling in the group and I don’t think the boys will hang their heads, no matter what happens. In a lot of ways, that’s the most important thing I’ll be looking for…

    Argh, Liverpool score a deflected goal at Swansea after being second best for over an hour…

  6. James Bond says:

    nice one me Amigo – a very well written and put together post .

    am gonna get right to the point .

    the 4-5-1 you have predicted doesn’t do it for me, we need to play a proper 4-3-3 or a 4-2-1-3 to get in between the lines as they play a 5-4-1 mostly .

    it is probably better to play one of Theo or Welbeck – I would play Welbeck and then look to bring Theo on if we are winning 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 at the 65th minute .

    also, that means that Santiago is benched as Ramsey can not be benched nor dropped after a complete performance a few days ago .

    believe it or not but playing Santiago does cause an imbalance to this team, IMO . It was fine in the absence of AR but now we have the players available, then it needs to be the best player being played in their best position and Santiago isn’t a B2B .

    we will win 4-1 – Possibly in AET.

  7. James Bond says:

    by the way – another reason why one of Theo and Welbeck must start or maybe both should start is because Monaco will park the bus and also, Theo and Welbeck have the potential to win us a penalty, draw a bad tackle, challenge – get an early booking and so on .

    remember it’s europe and not the PL hence the ref’s are rather prone to giving easy bookings and pens, if it looks right !

  8. AB says:

    Great stuff HT. I think you have the 11 spot on – I would only put Ramsey in the pivot with Coq and play Cazorla, notionally at least, in the 10. Welbs and Theo are not clinical enough, on current form, to start, but would make strong options for later on in the game, esp into extra time if we can get it there. I hope for a good performance and a couple of goals. I can’t get my hopes up for more sadly. But I do want us to come away with some confidence and kick on again in the league

  9. steve says:

    Hi lads sorry can’t hang about – crazy week this week. Great preview as usual HT and lets hope it brings the good fortune the others have 🙂
    My only problem with that line up you put forward is the lack of goal scorers, Ramsey could very easily have one of his off days that have been so frequent this season leaving only Sanchez and Giroud as actual goal scorers with three goals to score. I know it will be a breaking down job probably better suited to your team of midfield specialists but just for a laugh i will put forward my team line up more in line with the job at hand, enjoy 😆 😆 😆
    Goals, Goals, Goals 😆


    COYG!!!! 🙂

  10. henrychan says:

    Hi all.. 17ht another great post..

    But first.. why you left Rosicky behind.. he still our secret weapon.. a very dangerous ones.. and what use for putting Akpom on bench if Walcott and Welbeck are there also.. hehehe .

    Second.. Happy birthday to Walcott.. I think we should play him tonight..
    He have a big motivation there.. just like Giroud.. and we need them to a very critical game like this..

    And last.. As we know that ATTACK is our only way to glory at Montecarlo.. then putting to many midfielders as 4-5-1 scheme will make our balls goes round and round in the middle..
    We need 3 strikers.. 1CF and 2 Wingers.. and wr need speed and fast ones..

  11. henrychan says:

    Forget about our handsome man.. Giroud..
    Altough I doubt of his luck in CL.. but we need him because he know french team more than any other players.. because he was there before and topscore also.. hehehe..
    He have a great motivation.. no others player had.. hehehe..
    Hope both Giroud and Walcott play and score..
    Go Gunners..

  12. shrillex says:

    Good post but I kind of disagree with your lineup. If AW is sensible, we would see both Gibbs and Nacho. Nacho playing alongside Koz with Gibbs at LB. Though Gabriel would be my first choice alongside Koz for this game. And I’m pretty sure we will see Danny starting, considering he was rested against West Ham.

    Also, I don’t know why but i have this feeling that Koscielny will score the third goal. Anyways, COYG

  13. Gerry says:

    Fantastic stuff HT. I love the reflective detail you add each time. I think you have combined the realism and optimism supremely well.
    I also think you have latched on to the thought that our bad luck is coming around to be good fortune. Our injuries do mean we have a larger working squad than we might had had otherwise. This is Chelsea’s downfall I think? We had Ozil out for a while, and now, at the hard end of the season we have him in top form. Even the recent pull up from the Ox may turn out to be a blessing if he comes back for the final weeks in the same form as he left. Ramsey too, with his frequent hamstring problem identified he now looks like the player he ought to be, and very fresh.
    Finally, the Monaco defeat. Bad news? Nah! it got the team playing like their life depended on it at Old Trafford, and it brought rich reward beyond getting to the semi final of the FA Cup. We carried on with that belief against West ham. We turned a plus one point ahead of the Hammers from the previous game with them to a plus 18 points now. We are within spitting distance of second place … and only 7 points behind the leaders. Mo’s so worried he wants to put pressure on us by saying we are in the hunt for the title, in the hope we crumble.
    But we are the team with the fresh players, and that can make a big difference?

    That is the back drop to this game. I agree fully with HT that we should just play football and let the cards fall where they will …. but let’s not deny ourselves a chance of the unthinkable.
    Not the Champions League! No, the FA Cup and League DOUBLE!!!!

    Well that is my starting position. Not that I want to snatch all hope away from tonight’s game, particularly from the travelling support. I want us to treat this match like the early round of the League Cup. Which basically what it is. What are we, another 4 games after this to reach the final. We are ONE away from the FA Cup, and not against the elite of Europe.

    My team selection is based around changing the emphasis to speed and pace, but not about gung ho rush for goals. I want the attacking 4 to do just that. It wasn’t as though we were beaten in the first leg by being overwhelmed in midfield. Yes they did a great job of funnelling our players to where they could defend in numbers, but they never attacked in great numbers, well not with any great success. They beat us when we had too few defenders.
    Don’t give them that space. They are at home. The miniscule home crowd will be urging them to get forward and attack. In other words turn the tables on them. We have a back 7 that stay and defend, and when we have drawn them forward … unleash the dogs!
    From front to back:
    Akpom, Alexis, Walcott.
    Coquelin, Gabriel
    Monreal, Koscielny, Mertersacker, Bellerin
    Subs: Szcz, Gibbs, Flamini (for Coquelin), Cazorla (for Ozil), Chambers (for Walcott), Giroud and Welbeck (both saved for Newcastle).

    Note: Bellerin is the pace link from deep defence, not to go forward in attack. That will be Chamber job in the second half. Coquelin has earned his CL outing, but again, don’t risk him for too long. If Gabriel starts then fine, if not then he swaps roles with Flamini.
    It will be up to Coquelin, Gabriel and Bellerin to find Ozil or one of the front 3 with the earliest pass possible. Then we can see what their stretched defence can do with our shoot on sight trio up front 😀

    How will it turn out? Let the cards fall where they will …

  14. geoffchase says:

    Hi 17

    I can live with your choices, I think AR will be lost wider and we need B2B cover. I would re-align as a 4-3-1-2:

    AR – Coq – Santi
    Alexis – OG

    But could live with the 4-1-4-1 or your formation which we are more likely to see

    I hope to watch locally but…

    cheers — jgc

  15. Gerry says:

    I could live with your version Geoff, seeing as my options fell in a ‘no fly’ rule.
    That’s what happens when AW listens to Henry.

  16. James Bond says:

    let’s do this then, shall we ?

  17. James Bond says:

    Monaco v Arsenal (19:45 GMT) (Agg 3-1)
    Posted at 18:46
    Arsenal make three changes from the side which beat West Ham at the weekend – as Danny Welbeck returns in attack.
    Full team news to come.

    get in !

  18. James Bond says:

    Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Welbeck, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.

    Subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Chambers, Ramsey, Flamini, Walcott.

  19. James Bond says:

    nor very many attacking options on the bench, if we need reinforcements in AET other than Theo.

    saying that, Flamini will beg to differ after scoring on satruday 😀

    4-1 to Arsenal


  20. Gino92 says:

    Very excited about tonight’s game. I somehow don’t feel nervous at all. Maybe that’s because we have nothing to lose at the point and everything to gain. It’s Mission Difficult but not Impossible.
    I am however very gutted that Rosicky is out for this match. This is exactly the type of game that Little Mozart is great for and needed. His drive, energy, pressing, forward thrust will be sorely missed, but I still believe we can do it.

    4-1 to the good guys, I say…😃


  21. Gerry says:

    Sorry folks, I don’t want extra time, especially when we are using all our best players.

    Either we are 3 – nil up and we shut up shop for the last 20 minutes, or my first suggestion, and in my opinion, the best result in the long term …..
    1-0 victory. Try hard, no injuries, get key players off early ready for Saturday.

    That way we will be able to have another go at the CL next season. With ‘Pool winning, and life breathed into ‘United, there is no guarantee if we will if go down the route you all seem to wish for?

    I am wearing the LBH because I don’t want them to lose … Okay?

  22. Gerry says:

    Gino, we have a lot lose if they beat us 3-nil again?

  23. James Bond says:

    no 1-0 victory and no injuries notion for me @ Gerry

    we have nothing to lose – we worked our socks off getting to where we are , let’s not be part of the furniture – let’s create history tonight


  24. James Bond says:

    time to be brave and bold @ AW

    sub the BFG and bring on Theo/Ramsey

    play 3 at the back, they have 11 behind the ball so do the math

  25. James Bond says:




  26. James Bond says:

    should have been 2-0 up, Giroud had a tap in but the pace did him I think

    positive signs

    1-0 HT

    we can do this , with a little more luck could have gone to HT 2-0 but no worries

    if we can score a 2nd one before the 65th minuet then Monaco will begin to get anxious and maybe play a bit more football ?

    if we don’t score then sub Per for Theo or Ramsey .

    play 3 at the back and really flood that midfield up .

  27. Retsub says:

    Great performance, hope. They can keep the momentum up in the 2nd half. Rambo and Theo to come later.

  28. henrychan says:

    I think Ramsey must come for Sanchez.. it’s not his day..
    Yellowcard for a diving should be a sign..

  29. shrillex says:

    Nah Henry…..definitely a penalty for me. Poor refereeing

  30. TotalArsenal says:

    Boys are doing good. Need to up tempo in second half and hopefully score second soon. All to play for. COYG 🙂

  31. James Bond says:

    what a save on the one on one from Ospina

    ah, offisde

    good save non the less


  32. James Bond says:

    time to gamble .

    bring on Theo for Per .

  33. AB says:

    The boys doing us proud tonight. Whatever the result now.

  34. Retsub says:

    Proud of that lads.

  35. oz gunner says:

    Great effort but same old story to be honest. Same thing that happened against Milan and BM.

    Piss poor first leg has let us down again.

  36. James Bond says:

    the lads did us proud today .

  37. henrychan says:

    It’s half minute earilier.. And I think Giroud second goal is in the line..
    Almost there.. I wish we’ve been luckier..
    Maybe next season.. for we will back again for this Champion next year..
    With stronger team.. Go Gunners..

  38. steve says:

    I don’t think i have screamed cross it in more times in one game (especially in the last 20 mins) than tonight.
    Voice is gone, spirit is broken, great performance from the lads incredible in fact as they almost managed to get those three goals
    We nearly did it, lets make it a bit easier on ourselves next season lads lol

    Night all

  39. James Bond says:

    me amigo’s 100% records continues .

    us losing the first leg was all his fault and doing . should have written a preview for that one as well .

    let’s all blame him .

  40. henrychan says:

    Oz.. I think the rule is against us.. We did it before for Milan and Bayern.. and we did it again just now..
    And if not.. the game will continue to at least 2×15 minutes more..
    I think Platini must taken seriously to the rule.. for the sake of UCL..

    But.. whatever happened.. I love my Arsenal.. Arsenal till I die.. hehe.. Go Gunners.. VCC..

  41. James Bond says:


    no Henry, it’s the price we end up paying for finishing 2nd in the group .

    the return fixture – a team knows precisely what they need to do in order to progress at home, so all is in their favour .

    we should have finished top of our group and then played Juventus instead .

  42. Admir says:

    I’m proud with the team effort. Overall, we showed so much more than Monaco but, unfortunately, sometimes better team ends on the losing side. That’s possible only in football.

    Arsene went out with my plan (no gung ho-crap) and almost got the 3:0 victory we had needed.

    I was more interested in our game against Newcastle anyway.


  43. henrychan says:

    Bond.. James bond.. Juventus will be harder thing than Monaco.. hehehe..
    But yes.. we must blame our bad game home..
    Btw.. whom you said to be responsible ?? Wenger?? Or Ospina??

  44. TotalArsenal says:

    Could have done with the Pod for this one. So close and deserved better but still awesome performance. 🙂

    Bring on the Barcodes!

  45. oz gunner says:

    @ BJ

    agreed. The team and Arsene have only themselves to blame. Losing 1-3 in the first leg was unforgivable (especially that last goal).

    Proud of them for showing fight but it’s that same old feeling

  46. AB says:

    Come on guys. If we had played rubbish tonight then fair enough, but what is the sense in doing anything other than recognising a committed and good quality performance. Too late, maybe; but I can’t fault the effort tonight. And if we keep playing like that we will have a very strong and successful end to the season. There’s always a crap game to look back at in the relatively recent past, whatever club you may be; what matters is how we played tonight and how we perform on Saturday…..

  47. oz gunner says:

    @ AB

    I don’t think anyone can fault their effort tonight. They did do us proud but this valiant effort stuff doesn’t fly anymore. We didn’t progress so we’ve been left with a “what could have been” mentality…which is a bit too deja vu for mine.

  48. allezkev says:

    Great performance, effort wise, shame our finishing wasn’t at it’s sharpest, because I didn’t think all that much of Monaco and thought that we should have won 4-0…

    I actually thought that Monaco were a tad lucky…

    Onwards and Upwards…

  49. Admir says:

    @oz – speaking of “deja vu”, did you know that “Monaco” means “Munich” in Italian?

  50. AwayGunner says:

    One way or another, I’m proud of the boys tonight. They left it all out on the pitch. Onwards and upwards!


  51. Gerry says:

    Well I am a happy bunny. I only said 1-0 because, mistakenly, I thought if we got two the score would be level and extra time was beckoning … But now I think that is our FA Cup ruling, in that away goals only kick in after extra time has bee played.

    Whatever. The important thing is they maintained their team effort. They might even have won it in full time, and the players would have deserved that. AW almost got the subs right. Bringing off Coquelin, one of our most valuable team members right now. Alexis was the another, as they got more desperate late on – it might be time to rest him at the weekend, and give him time to regroup? – Ramsey came on and played his part. Walcott had flashes, but if he came on to supply width and crosses, then he clearly picked up the wrong message? So I am with AB on this. Stop looking around for someone to blame. The post-match interviewer tried that with Per. Like he said. That match was gone. They had chances to score more than the 3 they needed, but it wasn’t to be. Going down the other route, like the interviewer did, why not put all the blame on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain if it makes you feel better? But just remember it was his first half performance that set the tone for our FA Cup win against Manchester Utd, and for that matter, scored the goal that got us back to within one goal in the game in question.

    Back next time when we have filled the gaps is a much healthier outlook.

    However, beating Newcastle is a major part of that, so picking up the battered bodies for yet another bruising encounter is not going to be easy …. but from here on in, no more midweek extras to worry about. No travelling to distant grounds for another high stakes bruising.
    Just a little comforter to those who think we missed out on a bit of history …
    If we beat Chelsea in our home match that as good as wipes out their game in hand? So 7 points between us .. AND there are still 4 more very winnable after that match, so all the pressure is on Chelsea between now and then. One more slip up and they will get very nervous The gap? It could be just ONE point the end of the above match, and another 12 to play for????
    Surely that has got to be better than fretting over a lost game and bits of luck last night?

    Come On! The BIGGER picture …

  52. 17highburyterrace says:

    ‘Morning guys… Sorry Gerry, I cannot share your enthusiasm about going out of the tournament. IMO Chelsea are gonna be home and dry in the league unless they slip up in a way I cannot picture. City are another story and their match today is a big one, If they cannot come together as a group (quickly…) they may very well get drawn into the battle for top 4 places. They play West Brom (at home) as we play Toonies away while one or both of Pool and United have to drop points on the weekend. Int’l break after that… 😦

    The sad face is because I like this Arsenal team and I like to see them play. As such, I wish we were in the draw for the final 8 and thus had a couple more matches (at least). The team isn’t perfect, of course, but there are some very good elements. I still think the biggest trouble we face is our unsatisfiable support base. Everybody’s got their own angle and anything less than the quadruple (at a canter, without ever being nervous…) is just not good enough. I’m not sure what it is–the specter (spectre?…) of the invincibles and early success under Wenger, the rise of the internet as a vent-o-rama or just plain lack of appreciation about what football at the highest level is all about. (Hint…it’s a sport, i.e., there is no guaranteed happy ending…)

    I would have to concur with those (like Mertesacker…) who saw this tie lost with hubris going into the first leg. Monaco maybe have (very quickly) gone from a buying club to a selling club, but they’ve got a very good team with a great balance of athleticism and technique. They also played a perfect first leg and, unlike Arsenal, weren’t naive nor stupid in their home leg. Last night they defended well but also, in spots, did very well to move the ball into our half and made us work hard to get it back. We answered that call and finally got the reward with the 2nd goal, but they never panicked and our fatigue, in the end, showed.

    That’s not to say that we couldn’t have done better. The key 1st half plays were the Welbeck strike which got blocked by the prone defender and the yellow on Alexis for diving. Both set the tone in terms of luck and what the ref would give (nothing, and both suggested the task would be very tough. At least we accepted it and stayed committed. Very different from the first leg (or after the draw…) when we thought we were already through or that, by just playing hard we’d get the goals to come right back….

    It may be for the best, in terms of keeping focus to defend the cup and finish top 2 or 3 in the league, but the CL is big and we’re out. We want to attract good players to the team and going deep in the tournament is how you do it. (It also helps attract int’l fans…) Year upon year, I think, we’re getting closer to putting together better seasons–in the league and in the CL–and having the quality in depth to compete on multiple fronts. (007 is right, we bungled by coming second in our group; he’s wrong about who wrote the match preview for the first leg…winky face, eh…) Nine league matches (and two FA Cup games, max.) remain. Do I wish we had more CL matches, i.e., more chances to compete against the best in Europe?… You betcha…

  53. Gerry says:

    Yes HT, but I think that last paragraph is you trying to have your cake – ie watching top class football at the top table – and eat it – ie that being in the next round or two is any help to maintaining future participation in the CL for 2015-16?
    It is a tough enough task to achieve with our battle weary squad as it is. Far more difficult if were are the only team having to prepare for these midweek excursions.
    True, Chelsea may just pick themselves up and stumble over the line. Man City look more fractured than just worn down by the sheer number of games played. So their second spot is very much up for grabs if we can keep our run going. Key personnel coming back will also be a boost. Debuchy, Gnabry, and Arteta could all have a big say in how we finish up. I will keep reminding people about Gnabry because if he can realise some of his vast potential he will reduce Welbeck and Walcott to bit part players. Right now I am not convinced by either of those.
    Then there is the Ox too. He looks to have made his breakthrough if only he can stay fit.

    All this makes me take a different view for the rest of this season. The FA Cup is not cut and dried, but maintaining our presence in the CL should be the way to attract the players we need to have a much stronger squad next term, rather than getting in an extra game or two this time, and possibly being demoted to the Europa League?

    Each to their own view of course.

  54. Gerry says:

    Oh, it was not so much enthusiasm, as a pragmatic option. If we had got a 3 goals and won comfortably, I would be more than happy to give it a go in the next round … but that comes with a cost, imo.

    I was more disheartened that we put most of our best players through the wringer, than missing by the odd goal. The stats of us achieving the win have been built up over the 20 seasons that the CL has been in existence, and we have maintained that sequence. I am sure there have been stronger sides than ours that have failed in that time. But what I did take great joy from the game that they have kept that togetherness, and yes, winning mentality.

    I was hoping for TA’s 8 positives to come out before commenting on the players, but he may give it a miss if he is busy.

    Oh,the other thing that disappointed me was, finally not having M Owen making his bias against Arsenal so obvious, or G Neville having to praise Ozil through gritted teeth, we instead got P Scholes doing similar. He must be the Jeremy Hunt of broadcasting – the ironic reference there is that J Hunt is our ‘Cultural’ minister, whereas Scholes isn’t anything …..
    Without a contract that says ‘you must be the one to keep knocking Ozil’, he would add nothing sensible to the match commentators at all.

  55. The Cockie Monster says:

    Personally !…..before the match started I favoured beating Newcastle on the weekend !.
    We can hold our heads high, great performance, I feel we were unlucky over the two legs and the best team is out of the CL…..I fculking hate the away goals rule !.

  56. 17highburyterrace says:

    I think playing well as a collective is all we could ask for…and will lead us nicely towards the trip to Newcastle…

    The away goals rule really puts the onus on defending in the home leg, as Monaco did last night… Maybe the team was like Gerry (going into the match yesterday) and they didn’t understand it (in that first leg)…

    Just kidding, Gerry, and I think we’re all agreed on most everything. Personally, I maybe think the team is healthy enough and playing well enough to think we’ll be OK with the remainder of the league season. Returning bodies can only help, but even now, good players are being left off the subs bench (Rosicky and Akpom last night). Our only remaining matches against top 6 teams are with Chavs (home) and United (away) on the 2nd to last weekend. Hopefully all is settled by that time…

    More worrying, I think, is TA and this new job (assignment?) he’s got. If he doesn’t post, soon enough somebody will slate Ozil for giving his first half kit to Kondogbia rather than suggesting he come to Arsenal and get one (per each half played…) of his own…

    😀 :/

  57. Gerry says:

    re the shirt thingy, I think Scholes got that one up and running before they had gone down the tunnel.
    But like you, my first thought was, that was sweetener to help make his mind up in the next TW

    Right, I shall pop in later, but I am still on my horsey stuff tm.

  58. Admir says:

    @17 – we play Liverpool after Newcastle.

  59. 17highburyterrace says:

    Thanks Admir… The ‘Pool match is a big one, of course…Having watched them at Swansea, I’m less concerned. Both teams will be suffering from Int’l exertions…so I think our advantage in depth will help…

    Nice goal there from Rakitic, even if it was just him and the keeper…

    Oooh…bad choice from Neymar and whiffed open header from Suarez (barely) keeping City only 2 down…

  60. 17highburyterrace says:

    El Kun fools the ref, (and his assistant) but not the keeper… 😀 Makes up for the one Messi failed to convert in the first leg…

    Can’t see extra time after that…

    Speaking of keepers…I will be visiting our #1’s home town in a couple of weeks… Who’s interested in a kit?…

  61. 17highburyterrace says:

    I guess it’s late over there, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s gonna be any sort of post CL, er, post… TA too busy? Nobody else innerested?… On the plus side, nobody’s going on about the tired-ish narratives I see in contrasting headlines on New Snow… One “paper” says Ozil wants out, the next says he’s happy at Arsenal and I’m SURE (w/o clicking…) that they’re both using the same quote… 😀 I guess people will click on what they want to see and then click through some wardrobe failures or hottest athletes or…

    On the other hand, there must be *something* to discuss. Why no English teams in the final 8, for example… At least Arsenal and Chavs went out on away goals… Do the English teams not understand the rule?… Arsenal’s failings (individual or collective), who to buy, what to try, Wenger out (Klopp in), etc., etc., would be less interesting for me, but tend to get some Gooners excited…

    At least it was a good night for England’s #1… Hart can hold his head up and West Brom.should be an easier task…(esp. with their #1 out hurt)…

    OK, I’ll turn over the echo chamber to the next fella… Night, night…

  62. Gerry says:

    That’s me HT, or so it seems at the start of writing 7.15am.

    Right you miserable so and so’s. Here are my 8 positives from Tuesday:

    1, We can now concentrate on finishing in our highest league position for a decade. AND with our best squad for the same period. Throw in the much more winnable FA Cup to keep the silverware polishers in work for another 12 months, and the future is bright as the Cup itself.
    2, We came away from Monaco with our heads high. We came away with a strong performance and a 2-nil win. For me that is more than the glass being half full. Especially compared with going out of the competition like timid beasties who though they could frighten the opposition with their defensive approach, but cowered when they kept coming back for another go?
    No, we went their needing to win, and win we did.
    3, The willingness for players to run and play so hard for the team effort is THE ARSENAL way.
    Do not let that slip by you when you wish for more,or dwell on past efforts.
    4, Individual performances that were outstanding.
    Koscielny was a lion out there, and never gave a thought of painful tendons.
    Giroud did everything he could to get the first an important first goal.
    Alexis may not have had his best game in front of goal, but despite the severe kicking he got, he did his usual hard running from deep in defence all the way to their by line.
    Cazorla is another who played manfully throughout. He is digging deep like few can match.
    Bellerin may have been struggling with a big, strong opponent but he never gave up. In attack he tried to be positive. Time and again when there was a trio down the right and the player on the ball is stuck for a pass, it was Bellerin who made the first move away to make space AND that included when Ozil or Ramsey made up this trio. He is a thinker, and he keep going for the full 90.
    The whole team did not let their shortcomings out weigh their efforts. To a man, job well done.
    5, Following on from the above. Ramsey has come back to his top form, without the usual 6 match ‘getting fit’ we have seen before. He will be immense over this last part of the season if he maintains and improves this level. If it was a subconscious fear of another ‘hammy’ going, then that seems to be banished once and for all. Well done you fitness guys!
    6, The winning mentality. The missing ingredient that critics are only too quick too point to with every setback. This comes from response to the Monaco first leg, and even in defeat over two legs, the players are getting their reward in each and every game … by WINNING.
    7, Such is the strength of the team we have seen no imploding when a player fails to make decent pass, or a poor touch lets a hard earned possession fail once more. No. They have a collective spirit. So if they are not looking for blame takers why should you?
    8, This must go to the away supporters, and I don’t mean Bono and co. I mean the ones who have suffered over the years but still turn out for a game where the odds were stacked against us. Us stay at home watchers can only say ‘thank you’ because it was your cheering we heard, not the opposition. I for one, salute you.

    Those are my positives. I don’t want to dwell on things that did not go right. It is not helpful. We need the 8th positive more than ever, and it would be good if our memories are shortened over the coming weeks by those would be snipers who are missing what is really in front of them.
    Don’t get drawn into the media anti-hype that they love to shove our way.

    Keep the faith

  63. Gerry says:

    For speed TA, if you want to ‘New Post’ it. just stick it in as a first comment?

  64. James Bond says:

    agreed @ Gerry

    Ramsey is that one player who can propel us to win the Premier league .

    I know it’s a big statement considering we have Ozil and Alexis but seriously, Alexis slows down our game far too much and his passing leaves a lot to be desired . his work rate is first class though .

    if Ramsey stays fit for another 8 weeks, then we will be in a very very good way and close to Chelsea if not better than them .

  65. Admir says:

    Speaking of Alexis, I know he hasn’t been on his usual level in terms of scoring and creating goals but his presence in the team has helped Nacho Monreal a lot. I don’t see a full-back in the league I’d swap Monreal with.

  66. Gerry says:

    Well thanks JB. It is not so much an echo chamber around here, more Mary Celeste?

    I think there is a pattern here regards Ramsey and others. For every bit of bad luck through injuries, to have them come back fresh at this time of the season is a real bonus.
    A case of bad luck turning in favour against us …?
    Providing we can keep the same balance and effort in the team we could have a great chance of a big finish.
    Oh, and now with the Cup game replacing the Sunderland one, we now have 15 points to play for after our Chelsea 6 pointer.

    Mind playing Liverpool twice, Cup and league is not good. Rarely do teams win both games?

    But, we can can stick to OGAAT, Newcastle is the one to concentrate on.


  67. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi guys, very busy at the moment. Let’s pick things up at the weekend.

    Best wishes,


  68. 17highburyterrace says:

    TA, thanks for popping in…Indeed this place is suffering w/o you… Luckily I can (kinda) keep myself entertained by writing match previews… On that note, you’ve got one in the mail… 🙂

  69. TotalArsenal says:

    That is very kind of you to say, seventeenho, but it has been getting more and more quiet for quite a while… even when I was posting regularly. I do miss the comments, and commenting, a lot though. 🙂

    Will issue your post asap.

    Cheers as always, buddy. 😛

  70. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post 🙂

  71. AwayGunner says:

    Love the positives Gerry, and looking forward to another top class preview HT. Thank you both for keeping things lively during the quiet periods. I will try to make an effort to comment more.. I read BK religiously, and wouldnt neccessarily assume that comment count is directly indicitive of viewership by any means. Sometimes i personally just need to read the trusted opinions of others (the BK family) to relax and steady the ship. Furthermore, the quality of writting (HT you kill me) and intelligence/thought behind a lot of what’s said here can be an intimidating standard to wade in to at times..

    Anywho.. Easily the best blog on the internet. Thank you TA.

    Gerry, one more positive for me from France was the fact that even though a lot of it didnt come off, Ozil very noticeably dug so deep within himself and tried to put the team on his back in the last quarter hour. He looked just about as “hungry” as I’ve ever seen him. These are steps towards leadership and that’s something that makes me smile.


  72. TotalArsenal says:

    I am humbled by your kindness, AG. Thanks buddy. 🙂

    And all agreed re Ozil.

  73. Gerry says:

    Thanks AG. I too read a lot of good blogs but rarely comment. I save that for here.

    Agreed on Ozil. There were a lot of positives regards various players on the night that I hoped others would see. Unfortunately HT and I are on different peak times of writing. His, over his morning coffee, tends to later in the day here. Well after my ‘peak’, which is usually between 5.0am and 9 o’clock when I am off with the dogs. My evening comments are sparse indeed.
    But like you I check several times durng the day to see what has been added, so the hit count goes on 😀

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