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Arsenal 1 – 3 Monaco: Champions League Humiliation For Arsene Wenger Against Old Club

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THEY say that revenge is a dish best served cold, but 7,466 days after being sacked for the only time in his life, by Monaco, this particular dish had long since lost any temperature at all and had even started to congeal.

So no wonder Arsene Wenger ended up making a complete dog’s dinner of it.

Certainly there was no point putting it on a plate for Olivier Giroud. The France striker striker was served up no less than six tasty chances in just such a fashion and spurned every one of them.

Quite simply, Monaco were the hungrier side, snaffling up goals with each of their first two shots on target.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave the home side some hope with a late goal, but in a final wag of the tail Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco ran unchecked into the area and David Ospina’s hand could only push the ball against the far post and in.

Arsenal had started brightly enough and fewer than 90 seconds were on the clock when Danny Welbeck got his first sight of goal, clipping a shot from the edge of the area just over the bar.

Indeed, in the early skirmishes Arsenal found it surprisingly easy to extract change from a Monaco defence that had conceded only one goal in the entire group stage.

But for all their possession and forays into the Monaco box, the hard currency of clear-cut goal chances seemed remarkably hard for Arsenal to extract from their miserly opponents.

It was not until the 33rd minute that anybody in the home side had anything substantial to cheer about – Alexis Sanchez dug the ball out from under his feet 15 yards from goal but could only float it over the bar.

At least by then Arsenal had survived their half-hour of reckoning, a particularly dangerous period in these last-16 first legs that had been identified as especially troublesome by Wenger.

Having exited at this point in each of the preceding four seasons, Wenger had plenty of material to analyse and spotted that Arsenal had conceded four goals in the opening half-hour of those games.

But it will have been little consolation that last night the damage was not done until minute 38. There didn’t seem to be any danger. One moment Geoffrey Kondogbia was stood with the ball at his feet. The next it was flying past the right ear of the motionless David Ospina into the Arsenal net.

A deflection on the edge of the box off Per Mertesacker had done the damage.

Former Monaco star Glenn Hoddle revealed at the weekend that Wenger used to get quite angry when he was a younger man making his way in the French Leagues in the late 1980s.

He could have been forgiven for losing his temper last night.Quite simply, Arsenal had played into Monaco’s hands by dropping the pace and playing in front of them.

Within a minute of the restart, Sanchez took it upon himself to go round the outside, but Giroud missed a near-post volley, the ball hit his standing leg and bounced harmlessly wide.

Soon after Giroud missed another simple header from a Santi Cazorla free-kick and the frustration cranked up another notch. But the night was about to get much, much worse.

Dimitar Berbatov, 27 goals in 70 league appearances for Tottenham, marked his return to England by netting again.

It was an embarrassingly easy break. Anthony Martial on the left flank, Kieran Gibbs the only defender caught in no-man’s land as the ball was slipped past him to Berbatov.

Arsenal thought they had pulled one back when Santi Cazorla’s shot was palmed straight out to Giroud, but he blazed high over the bar.

The misfiring Frenchman was replaced by Theo Walcott. Oxlade-Chamberlain also finally also joined the fray but was it too little too late? The cool-headedness of his sublime finish from 20 yards was what Arsenal had needed all night.

But even he was to turn villain a few moments later when he lost possession to Moutinho, who put in Carrasco to score. – Daily Express

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