It felt like deja vu. We’ve had nights like this before – the Schalke defeat springs to mind – but I thought that these days were behind us. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn from the match against Monaco at the Emirates Cup and we were punished for that.
Here are the key points from the game.
1.It was another reality check for English football.
Maybe this one should have come at the end but I think there is a pattern that Arsenal fit in to. Liverpool have joined the Spuds in Europa League after losing to Basel – a decent side from the Swiss league. Chelsea were very lucky not to lose against PSG in their first leg while Manchester City should be thrilled with the fact Barcelona won just 2:1. Arsenal were expected to win the game against Monaco but we were comprehensively beaten by the side that was well-organized. And that’s the key word: well-organized.
People in England mock Jose Mourinho for driving his bus into Europe but, unlike the managers of the other English clubs in Champions League, he has won European trophies and still has a comfortable lead ahead of their rivals in the Premier League. It’s impossible to love the Portuguese unless you’re a member of his closest family but there are a few pages in terms of organization other managers should take from his book. Or at least scrap their own. At the moment, Chelsea look like the only team capable of reaching the quarterfinals.
Perhaps it’s not just English international football that is overestimated after all.
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2.We haven’t learned our lesson from the Emirates Cup.
Monaco were a better team in August at the Emirates and they deserved their victory tonight as well. Again, it was their midfield and physical presence with an addition of dangerous counter-attacks that gave the French side a huge advantage ahead of the second leg. We didn’t defend well and were far to open when we went forward. We left far too many gals and they could pass themselves out of trouble with no pain.
3.Thierry Henry must save Danny Welbeck’s career.
If there is a player that has a physical presence and intelligence to use it, it’s Danny Welbeck. However, the English striker needs to improve his finishing or he’ll become the new Gervinho. His ability to miss pretty much every type of chance is frustrating. Thierry Henry is back at the club and even though he is appointed as a youth coach, I hope he’ll offer Welbeck a lot of lessons in order to turn him into a great finisher.
4.Olivier Giroud is not the worst striker in the world but he is most certainly not Thierry Henry.
Remember Nwankwo Kanu? He was a very solid striker who score some great goals for us including that unforgettable hat-trick that turned around the game at Stamford Bridge and an equalizer at Camp Nou. That same Kanu, however, was responsible for our last early exit in the Champions League as he missed a penalty at Artemio Franchi against Fiorentina. The game ended 0:0, Fiorentina won at Highbury thanks to that incredible Gabriel Batistuta goal and we were out of Champions League.
Oh, and do you remember our defeats against Deportivo at home and Juventus away in 2001-02? You know, when we won the domestic double? Well, there was this lad named Thierry Henry who missed consecutive penalties against Deportivo and Juventus.
My point is, Giroud shouldn’t be crucified for his misses tonight. Yes, he’s had a history of missing chances in big matches. Yes, he failed to score a goal from two chances that most of our grandfathers would have converted (even in their graves) . However, he has improved this season and can get us a lot of goals in forthcoming fixtures.
5.Kieran Gibbs should know that bombing down the flank is not his only job.
Gibbs’ desire to go forward left too much open space at the back. The worst part is he didn’t produce enough in attack to justify his runs forward. His first touch on two promising attacks was frustrating.
6.Per Mertesacker had a shocker.
BFG was totally out of the game tonight. Is he overplayed?
7.Mesut Özil had a decent first half before becoming invisible in the second.
The Germans were a target for many insults last night but he wasn’t that bad overall. He was bad in the second half while he created two promising situations in the first.
8.Fabinho and Kondogbia should make Arsene Wenger’s short-list.
The aforementioned duo would fit into our team perfectly. Kondogbia is a player that has been on my wish-list since the summer while Fabinho was a makeshift midfielder as he is usually playing as a full-back.
Joao Moutinho deserves a special mention too. The Portuguese was brilliant.
9.The referee did his job well.
We couldn’t complain about the referee as he, unlike our players, did his job well.
10.Let’s focus on domestic competitions now.
“Yes, it’s football and everything is possible.” Blablablabla. For some reason, our team is more likely to disappoint (Hull, Leicester, Stoke, Spuds, Swansea) than to over-achieve (Manchester City). So, let’s forget about how we are going to beat Monaco on their own soil scoring three goals and conceding none in the process. It won’t happen. We have already lost the tie against Monaco so we should focus on the FA Cup and Premier League. Our next game in the league is against Everton. Let’s forget about complacency, Keep our third place and retain the FA Cup.