Arsenal turned in an impressive performance away at Monaco on Tuesday, though were eliminated from the Champions League on away goals after a 2-0 win on the night. The Gunners were the better side throughout the match, though ultimately didn't have quite enough to find an all-important third goal.
Monaco successfully stifled Arsenal in the game's opening exchanges, with goalkeeper Danijel Subašić having very little to do throughout the first half-hour. However, slowly but surely the hosts were sinking ever deeper, and the Gunners were beginning to strike up some tidy combinations in the final third.
They were rewarded with a goal just inside the final 10 minutes of the first half, with Olivier Giroud emphatically lashing a rebound into the roof of the net on the turn after his first effort was blocked by Subašić. Just a couple of minutes later it was almost 2-0, though Aymen Abdennour blocked a Danny Welbeck volley from the edge of the penalty area.
Right on the stroke of half time, Arsenal again went close, though Welbeck's drilled cross was too powerful for Giroud to bring under control, and it bounced off the Frenchman and into the grateful arms of the Monaco goalkeeper. It was the last action of the first half, and the hosts were certainly thankful: they were beginning to seriously struggle.
Things didn't really change in the second half, with Arsenal continuing to dominate proceedings. They recorded their first effort within 10 minutes of the restart, though Subašić tipped Mesut Özil's free-kick over the crossbar. The German had another good effort from the edge of the box just past the hour, though his snapshot flashed narrowly wide.
Arsenal's heads seemed to be dropping as full time drew ever nearer, but a goal from nowhere with just over 10 minutes left sparked them back into action. Theo Walcott's shot hit the post, though a poor clearance from Layvin Kurzawa gave Aaron Ramsey a second bite of the cherry, and he made it count. Suddenly the Gunners needed only one more to go through.
They very almost found it a few minutes later, though Giroud's effort on a floated Özil free-kick was beaten away by the goalkeeper from point-blank range. They continued to dominate through to the final whistle, though didn't have quite enough to break through the Monégasque defence.
Monaco: Subašić; Kurzawa, Abdennour, Wallace, Fabinho; Martial (Ferreira Carrasco 59'), Kondogbia, Toulalan, Dirar; Moutinho; Berbatov (Silva 70').
Arsenal: Ospina; Monreal (Gibbs 83'), Koscielny, Mertesacker, Bellerín; Cazorla, Coquelin (Ramsey 63'); Welbeck (Walcott 72'), Özil, Sánchez; Giroud.
Goals: Giroud (36'), Ramsey (79').
1. Arsenal were very sharp, even if they didn't have enough
Arsenal had certainly given themselves an uphill task for this match, but they came out with impressive belief. They dictated the game from the outset, and managed to put together passing combinations in the final third that caused big problems for Monaco's notoriously miserly defence. If they had played like that in the first leg, things would no doubt now look a lot different.
2. Monaco disappointing on the counter
However, Arsenal's task was certainly made easier by Monaco's lack of threat on the counter-attack. Unlike in the first leg, when Anthony Martial and Nabil Dirar ran riot down the flanks, Monaco's wingers were rather inhibited in this match. Nacho Monreal and Héctor Bellerín were more than a match for their opponents -- the latter in particular was very impressive -- and it meant the Gunners were able to win the ball back quickly and force Monaco back towards their own goal. They were lucky Arsenal didn't make the most of all of their chances.
3. Danny Welbeck was excellent
Danny Welbeck has been solid if unspectacular since his move to Arsenal in the summer, and hasn't really done enough to shake his reputation as a likeable, if ultimately ineffective player at the very top level. Nevertheless, he was excellent in this match, and in the first half his pace and mobility was the biggest threat to the Monaco defence. It'll be interesting to see if he can turn this into a sustained run of form.