The last time that Arsenal progressed from the first knockout stage into the quarter-finals of the Champions League was in 2009. The Gunners played the first leg at home and beat Roma by 1-0. The scores were reversed in the away leg and we needed penalties to go through but we did it and went on to the semi’s.
Since then Arsenal have generally messed it up in the first leg and given ourselves a mountain to climb. A 2-0 loss at home to Bayern Munich last time, 3-1 the year before and that awful 4-0 disaster away to AC Milan in 2012 tells a clear picture.
So it is no wonder that, as reported by Sky Sports Arsene Wenger has highlighted this to his players and called on them to learn from the past and not to make the same mistake again when Monaco arrive at the Emirates stadium tonight.
The Arsenal boss said, “In the last four years we always came out frustrated. We’ve gone out yes, but just.
“We conceded a goal at home in the first 30 minutes three times and that goal knocked us out. Two times we have been knocked out by the winners and all because of goal difference or one goal.
“It’s really tight and we’ve learned from that. It is hard earned every time and it is done with a one-goal difference. You either go out by one goal or go through by one goal and that means you have to work very hard.”
All Wenger’s talking up of Monaco and claiming that tonight’s game is a 50-50 as well as this reminder of previous first leg disasters is intended to make sure that the players go out there ready. There should be no fear but a desire, a belief and the intent to put things right this season. Will Arsenal get it right this time?