Paul Scholes: Arsenal only really seem to play when the pressure is off

As part of his exclusive column, Paul Scholes looks back at Arsenal's display against Monaco on Tuesday night

Click to follow
The Independent Football

In Monaco, Arsenal showed what they can do when the shackles were off and they had to attack. It was a brilliant performance against a very average team, even if they did not get the third goal they needed. Typical Arsenal, that when the pressure is off, they played their best football.

Once again I was impressed with the midfield partnership of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin, although I would have picked a different team to the one that Arsène Wenger selected. I would have played Cazorla further up the pitch, started with Aaron Ramsey alongside Coquelin and dropped Mesut Özil.

It was another game from Özil, and another failure to make the big difference. It was not his worst performance, and he had a role in the first goal for Olivier Giroud, but how long must Arsenal wait for him to deliver the moment that wins them a tie like that against all the odds? He found space but his touch was not great. He tried hard but he slows Arsenal down at times. He was bought to make a difference on nights like that.

As for the shirt-swapping at half-time, as I said on ITV, I don’t like it. We never did it at Manchester United because there would have been an explosion from Sir Alex Ferguson when he saw you come back into the dressing room. But even if that had not been the case, I would never have done it. I was there to win a football match, not to start a memorabilia collection.

Cazorla is downcast at the final whistle as Monaco players celebrate

I knew the shirt-swapping business in general was getting out of hand when opponents would ask me for my shirt while we were still mid-match. Those are the wrong priorities. But that is just a detail, and not the basis of why I felt Özil had a disappointing evening for Arsenal.

I watched Ramsey against West Ham and I thought that in both games he looked sharp. He scored against West Ham and then against Monaco when he came on and, at the moment, he carries that threat that he will either create a goal or get one himself. As for Özil, he has played in two great teams, for Germany and Real Madrid, and I think that away from that level of the highest quality he is struggling to influence games the same way.

Read this week's full column HERE