By Walter Broeckx
So we are out of the CL for this season. Time to try to make an analysis of what caused our exit this season.
1. The missed chances in the first leg.
It was one of those days that even with a shot on goal from Welbeck going in, no defender able to do anything anymore…it would hit our own other attacker Walcott on the back somehow, and fly over. Giroud having a day that saw him miss several good and clear opportunities which on every other day he would have scored one or two blindfolded. But not on that day. Those days happen. And when you enter the dressing room after such a match you can sit there wondering for hours how on earth the ball just refused to go in.
2. Bad luck.
Yes compare our missed chances like the Welbeck hitting Walcott with the luck Monaco had in the first leg. They hardly had been near our penalty area in that match when suddenly a shot from 25 meters out would have been an easy catch for Ospina but a wicked deflection on the chest of Mertesacker changed it course and it ended up in the back of the net. Bad luck also with their third goal. Ospina getting a touch on the ball and then it was a matter of luck if the ball would bounce out of the goal from the goal post or it would go in to the net. Lady Luck chose the side of Monaco on that day. A deflected shot and a shot going in from the post.
3. Losing our head.
What we did wrong against Monaco was that we lost our head. We were in control when they scored their lucky opening goal. We kept on missing chances and that affected our players a bit. Instead of thinking: okay, this isn’t our day today so we have to be more cautious and try to at least prevent them from scoring more goals. But we ran forward and committed more and more players forward. As if it was the final minutes of the final match of the season and we had to come back and win this particular match.
If it had been a match with the loser going out after one match I could accept the way we did our business on that day. But in the CL when you always have two matches you have to keep that in your mind. As a result Monaco could score their second goal on the counter. Yes individual mistakes did happen but it was the whole team running out of position that made us pay for one individual error 10 meters on their half. There should have been more cover at the back on that moment in the game.
4. Losing our head again.
When Oxlade-Chamberlain scored the 1-2 in the first leg we should have kept the score like that. But the rush of blood made us lose our head again. Again we ran forward in an attempt to score an equaliser. And in fact…that equaliser would not have changed the set up for our second match. Even if we had made that 2-2 we still knew we had to go there and win at Monaco.
Okay only a 0-1 would have been sufficient then. But still it meant we had to win over there. Looking at that match that evening I immediately said: okay, keep the score like that and we go and win it in Monaco. I had seen enough missed chances to know that we could beat them with 2 goals if we would keep calm.
Alas, we lost our head and gave away the ball in a stupid way and suddenly the whole team was so advanced that only Per was left behind and got the full blame. I think it was more others who should have been blamed. Where was our left back? Where was our other central defender?
Per plays on the right hand side of our defence. And if you remember well the attack for that goal was completely on our left hand side. No left midfielder, no left back, no left side central defender running where he should have been. All had lost their head in the haste to try to score an equaliser.
For points 1 and 2 there is not much you can do. Strikers will miss chances. And sometimes it can look ridiculous but even Thierry Henry and Bergkamp have had such days. These things can happen. And not much you can do about bad luck. A ball hitting a body leaving the keeper stranded is just one of those things. Nobody is to blame, except the football gods if they would exist.
Points 3 and 4 which are the same is a thing we can do something about. The go out all attack is understandable when you lose in a league match and then you can pay for it if the other team can counter well. But then it is about the difference of losing 3 points or winning 1 point. In a CL match it is not about winning a point but about getting the best result over two matches. Wenger had even said so before the match at home that in such matches every second and minute counts.
Our players forgot about that in the final minutes a bit and didn’t use their head enough. In a CL match the team with the best result over two matches goes further. And that is something we should keep in mind when we play a first leg next time. Don’t let panic take over or don’t let a rush of blood let us lose our head.
Given that it is very likely that no other PL team will make it in to the next round it somehow makes me think that even if it is hard to take we might be blessed by this exit.
If we would have stayed in the CL it would mean that of the current top 4 we would have been the only one who was fighting on 3 fronts. All the other top teams can only focus on the PL. We also have the FA cup to focus on and so does Liverpool. So we have a disadvantage compared to Chelsea, Man City and Man United but luckily only with one extra match. For Liverpool it is the same calendar like us.
Lets hope the boys recover quickly and that we can field a strong and fit team at Newcastle. A win there would keep us near City or who knows if they keep on dropping silly points could take us to second place. And with Liverpool and United playing each other a win would take us further away from one or both teams in case they get a draw. Let us however just focus on our next match and get a good result over there.
One year ago…
- 18 March 2014: Cazorla, Ramsey and Zelalem all signed new contracts.
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- Left has never been stronger at Arsenal FC!
- The seven main things that are wrong with football in England
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- 2022-23 WSL Arsenal v Spurs – Match Preview – part 1 the head to head record and comments on Spurs summer signings