Albert Einstein once said that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” little did he know that he was coining the motto for Arsenal’s hopeless meandering in the knockout stages of the Champion’s League.
Having had three days to deal with the Gunner’s away goal exit to Monaco I’m now much more furious about the whole debacle than I was on the night. Before kick-off on Tuesday I’d convinced myself our European dream was over for another season and I was ok with that.
However, very predictably I boarded the emotional roller-coaster that I’d promised I wasn’t going to strap myself into. When Aaron Ramsey put Arsenal 2-0 up with 11 minutes on the clock I was wind-milling my penis and swinging my scarf above my head screaming at my TV set (one of these things didn’t happen), as Monaco comfortably dealt with every cross we put into the box.
Five minutes of extra-time were not enough to net another and predictably the whole task proved to be one away goal too far. Again.
If you look back at recent years, in 2012-13 we lost 3-1 at home to Bayern Munich and won 2-0 in the away leg. The season after we drew the German heavyweights again and lost 2-0 at home and drew 1-1 away. On all three of these occasions including Monaco it has been Arsenal’s complete idiocy at the Emirates that has been their demise.
Against Bayern Munich it is much more understandable as they are without a doubt a much better football team but with all due respect to Monaco they are nothing special. They are the best team the Gunners could have drawn and their failure to view the tie as a two-leg contest effectively put them out of the competition before they even arrived at the Principality.
It’s taken the best part of five years for Arsenal to learn from their mistakes in the league and are only now adapting their play to not get totally blown away by the bigger teams and the same approach now needs to be applied across the continent.
Losing 2-1 at home to Monaco with a few minutes to go is certainly not ideal but it’s definitely manageable, but instead of keeping within touching distance they went out all guns blazing to look for an equaliser and in the most Arsenal way possible almost immediately conceded again.
Arsenal are the dating equivalent of the boy who doesn’t make any effort with his girlfriend until she’s already decided she wants to sleep with someone else and it’s over, or the high-school athlete who sprints the first 200 metres of a 1km stretch and then falls behind in an asthmatic mess for the remaining 800.
Blame has understandably been pointed at Wenger for the tragedy that was the first leg and not shoring up the defence for the last few moments, but at 2-1 the team should know to do that themselves.
The club will now go through the motions of finishing in the top four to do exactly the same next year. That is the stark reality of the situation, unless something changes and based on this season’s European campaign that doesn’t look likely.