The Gunners were stunned by goals from Monaco trio Geoffrey Kondogbia, Dimitar Berbatov and a late strike from Yannick Ferreira Carrasco.
Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez both put in lacklustre displays, and Nicholas believes it is not the first time these players have failed to deliver in big matches.
Nicholas told Sky Sports News: “The big name players that we signed refused to turn up for another big night for Arsenal.”
Arsenal have a small chance of overturning the deficit in the second-leg courtesy of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s superb curling effort.
But former Liverpool captain Graeme Souness believes they shouldn’t be in this situation as they were up against an average side, and was hugely critical of the way they approached the game.
“Arsenal are trying to play the ultimate football. They’re all really good, neat and tidy on the ball, all very creative,” Souness said during Sky Sports’ coverage of the first leg of the last-16 tie.
“All the successful teams have a contrast, a combination of midfield players. People who can break things up, people who work hard.
“Arsenal – I’ve said it, and I’ll keep saying it – are too easy to play against. For me, an average team has blown Arsenal away.”
Retired Tottenham midfielder Jamie Redknapp also felt their performance lacked any conviction and described their performance as the worst he had seen by any Arsene Wenger side in Europe.
“Probably Arsene Wenger’s most disappointing performance in Europe, ever,” Redknapp added.
“I came here today and was really looking forward to watching Arsenal play. I expected something special, but it just didn’t happen.
“They played against a Monaco side that were organised, well-drilled, did their jobs when they had the ball and when they didn’t. That was the difference. It was so disappointing, so inept.”
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