March 16, 2015

A Perfect Time For Monaco

By Michael Clements

A couple of weeks ago we were sitting here moping about how we were out of the Champions League and we'd better concentrate on the FA Cup, as it was our only chance remaining to get our hands on a trophy. 

Perhaps the most addictive thing about football, the part that has you coming back week after week, is how things change so damn quickly. For the most part we had all made our minds up pretty quickly after the Monaco match at The Emirates - Wenger should field a reserve team in the second leg and focus his efforts elsewhere, specifically Old Trafford and the quarter final of the FA Cup. It just so happened that the Manager's team rotation came against Manchester United at Old Trafford, and what a stroke of genius it turned out to be.

Since then we dispatched of West Ham fairly easily with a 3-0 win at home. While the game was scrappy at times, we still looked in control and managed to hammer in some pretty special goals in the process. Giroud got us up and running on the stroke of half-time with a lovely effort just inside the box. The ticky-tacky passing that led to that goal continued in the 82nd minute when the same handsome Frenchman played a delicious one-two with Ramsey, for the Welshman to finish emphatically. Everyone's favorite aging French little-man, Flamini got a tap in with his first touch coming back from injury to make it a deserved 3-0. A good day at the office all-round.

Callum Chambers was one who stuck out to me in particular. Perhaps it's Hector Bellerin breathing down his neck, but he was everywhere on Saturday. His defensive duties, while still somewhat raw, have never been in question, but it was his runs up the wing, his lovely crosses into the box, and even his Ronaldo-esque crossovers that stood out against our East London rivals. We've seen what Bellerin can do, so this is really turning into a juicy competition for a place in this Arsenal team, and I'm loving it. These two lads clearly have a bright future with this club if they keep it up.

Now, after four straight wins, resulting in another semi-final appearance at Wembley and sitting pretty just a single point out of 2nd place in the Premier League, we travel to Monaco. 
All of a sudden this fixture has sparked not only a little interest, but a sincere belief that this Arsenal team can maybe, just maybe pull something off. If nothing else we can be positive that these boys are not going to lay down and die, and that's all you can ask for at this point. 1-3 down is probably the worst we could have hoped for in the first leg, but it's certainly not unfamiliar territory. Sure, we still ended up getting dumped out by Bayern Munich in 2013, but it was a hell of a comeback and against (no disrespect to Monaco) a better team.

We are Arsenal, so let's take a deep breath first, but there can't be a doubt in anyone's mind that this group of gentleman wearing our famous cannon on their chests are going to sit there in the changing room, get a bollocking by the boss, then give everything they have so to ensure pride is protected for Gooners everywhere. 

What a month March will turn out to be if we can pull off this miracle. How about we forget the lackluster performance at the end of February and look for Giroud to get the hatrick he deserves against this Monaco team. We've all heard about Monaco's defensive abilities, just as we heard about Bayern not losing at home for 750 years until Arsenal shook them up. If anyone can go into Stade Louis II and pull off an upset, it's us. 

Come On You Lovely Gunners!