Monaco fans getting off the Victoria Line at Finsbury Park station last night were greeted by the platform announcer offering his condolences ahead of an almost universally-foreseen beating.
Come full time, the hi-vis-clad loud-hailer jockey was using his words to season a helping of the humblest of pies, with his beloved Arsenal defeated 3-1 by Les Rouges et Blancs.
Prior to kick-off it was believed fate had finally relented on the Gunners after coffin draws against FC Bayern Munchen (twice) and Barcelona in recent years.
They had been 3/10 to qualify for the next round, with Monaco underdogs at 12/5, yet Arsenal are now lengthy 17/4 outsiders, with a two-goal swing needed and three away goals to overturn.
However, all is not lost – there are a whole host of reasons why the Gunners can still make the quarter-finals.
Monaco are far better away from home that they are at Stade Louis II
In a Ligue 1 based strictly on road form Leonardo Jardim’s men would be top of the shop, having won twice more than any other side.
Conversely a division in which only games in their own backyard counted would see them loitering below the equator in 11th.
Arsenal are masters of the spirited (if ultimately unsuccessful) fight-back from impossible positions
FC Bayern Munchen 2013/14, FC Bayern Munchen 2012/13, AC Milan 2011/12 – all Champions League round of 16 ties in which the Gunners were down and out after the first leg.
On each occasion they recovered their equilibrium to throw down a major (pressure free) challenge to the European superpowers in the second leg, coming within a whisker of capsizing major deficits in both 2012 and 2013.
Monaco, while their hosts may have made them look like it in London, are not on the same level as either of those sides, with the expected Arsenal backlash more likely to bear fruit as a result.
The Gunners can’t play any worse than they did in the first leg
Olivier Giroud missing open goals, Theo Walcott blocking goalbound Danny Welbeck efforts, Per Mertesacker’s existence – a cautionary tale all round.
Arsene Wenger’s side melted under the pressure of favouritism on home territory, but at least their woefulness has neutered any troubling expectations ahead of the second instalment.
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