Arsene Wenger congratulates Monaco on their win, as Arsenal face Champions League exit
Arsene Wenger congratulated Monaco on their 3-1 victory in the Uefa Champions League last 16 first leg tie at the Emirates Stadium.
The defeat leaves the Gunners on the brink of exiting the Champions League at the last 16 stage for a fifth successive season.
If that comes to pass, it will leave Arsene Wenger facing serious questions on whether the team is progressing or not.
The excuse of not being able to compete in the transfer market no long exists.
Indeed fitting expensive recruits Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez successfully into the same team is one of many issues that Wenger hasn’t been able to resolve.
Tonight Monaco rode their luck. Their first goal was hugely fortunate. But for a wicked deflection David Ospina would have saved the shot. But as they say if you don’t buy a raffle ticket you can’t win a prize.
Monaco will also be having a Gallic chuckle on the return journey to the Principality about the finishing of their Countryman Olivier Giroud.
This was the Giroud that we saw in his first season at Arsenal, and at this stage of last season when he was being kept out of the team by Yaya Sanogo.
Monaco’s smiles will get even broader at thoughts of how naive Arsenal were in chasing the match at 1-0 and 2-1.
Arsenal will need to chase the match in the second leg and Monaco showed tonight they have the players to take advantage on the counter-attack.
The formation that Wenger has chosen to play in recent weeks means that their no natural width in the team.
Monaco were able to pack the middle of the field and Arsenal were rarely able to get behind them in wide positions.
Arsene’s substitutions tonight also led to the team losing shape. Taking off Francis Coquelin in particular left Arsenal’s defence even more exposed to the counter-attack.
Expect the fall-out from this performance to rumble on for some time.
Here is what Wenger had to say at his post-match press conference.
on the defeat…
Congratulations to Monaco, they had a perfect result and played the game they wanted to play. On our side, I believe that we missed the chances and we were a bit suicidal defensively. We were not at the level defensively and we were a bit unlucky as well because the first goal is deflected. On the second and the third goal we were suicidal. We had the luck to come back to 2-1 but not the right to give away a goal the way we did because that makes our task extremely difficult in the second leg. It looks like we have lost our nerve and our rationality on the pitch. The heart took over the head and at that level it doesn’t work.
on making progress before the defeat…
Mentally we were not ready or sharp enough to get into this game. We paid for it. In the first 20 minutes there was enough room to win the game. Monaco are a team who are strong physically with a good physical density and we missed the chances. If you look at the number of chances we missed, at that level you cannot afford that.
on whether Arsenal were complacent…
I hope not. I hope not. It looks like that when you don’t have that kind of sharpness. Anything is possible – it’s very difficult to say that straight after the game.
on how frustrating it is…
Football is not down to paper, football is down to performance and on the night Monaco produced a performance and we didn’t.
on Olivier Giroud…
I felt he had an off night tonight. He missed easy chances and it looked like it was not one of his best days.
on preparing differently in European football…
We had a lot of possession tonight and I just believe that defensively we were not at the level. Our weakness was more down to mentality. We rushed our game, we knew coming back at half-time it was important not to concede a second goal and we were too impatient. This is a game of 180 minutes and if you look at the second and third goal, it’s difficult to explain how we conceded these goals. You cannot afford that.
on Oxlade-Chamberlain’s reaction…
He’s very disappointed but it can happen that you lose the ball 70 metres from goal. It doesn’t mean you have to concede a goal, you have defenders behind you.
on the team’s balance…
It wasn’t right because we always had to attack and when we lost the ball we were exposed. Physically we dropped in the second half in midfield and we were more exposed. At the back it wasn’t one of our best night.
on the back four’s protection…
You can say that but I still believe we were a bit unlucky. You are right, he [Kondogbia] was free. The ball deflected off Per [Mertesacker] He turned a little bit and that’s when you are most in danger with deflections – if you don’t face the ball.
on a lack of communication with the goals…
Maybe, as I told you, we used our hearts more than our brains.
on over committing…
The players wanted to do well and come back when it was 2-1. They wanted to come back to 2-2 and forgot their elementary cautiousness.
on how he assesses the tie…
We have a smaller chance but no matter how big the chance is we will go for it. We need to recover from this disappointment and prepare for the next game.