Having lost the first leg 3-1 at the Emirates, Arsenal face an uphill task when they travel to Côte d’Azur on Tuesday night. The Gunners need to score three unanswered goals in order to advance which seems next to impossible considering how solid Monaco are at the back. The French side however were somewhat lucky to come away having conceded just once because of a bizarrely misfiring Oliver Giroud who had six good chances to get on the scoresheet before being hauled off at the hour mark.
Monaco will once again look to absorb pressure and hit Arsenal who will have majority of possession on the break. This will be one of the biggest matches at the Stade Louis II for nearly a decade as Monaco have’t reached this stage of the competition since 2004-05.
Also, it will be the first time Arsene Wenger visits the Principality having spent seven years making him name while claiming the Ligue 1 title. Leonardo Jardim’s men meanwhile will be looking to get into the quarter finals, somewhere Arsenal haven’t reached since 2010.
The Gunners are in fine form in the Premier League, climbing to just one points off 2nd place while Monaco are four points off Marsielle in 3rd, though they have a game in hand in the race to qualify for the Champions League next season. Both sides come into this game on the back off convincing 3-0 wins over West Ham and Bastia respectively.
Tiemoue Bakayoko, Andrea Raggi and Lacina Traore will all sit out of the game through injuries while Jeremy Toulalan, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco are major doubts. Dimitar Berbatov is expected to start having been on the bench for the last two games.
Mathieu Debuchy, Abou Diaby, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mikel Arteta are all sidelined through injury along with Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky. Santi Cazorla will likely be reinstated in the starting line-up after being rested over the weekend.
Monaco: Subasic; Abdennour, Kurzawa, Toure, Fabinho; Toulalan, Kondogbia; Bernardo Silva, Joao Moutinho, Martial; Berbatov
Arsenal: Ospina; Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey; Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud
- Arsenal have won 12 wins out their last 14 matches.
- Monaco haven’t conceded a goal at home in the Champions League so far.
- Monaco have conceded just twice in seven European matches this season.
- Arsenal have never lost to French oppositions in France, winning 6 and drawing 4 of their 10 games in European competitions.
- Wenger has won seven of his 13 meetings with French clubs in the Champions League, drawing three and losing thrice.
Monaco – Joao Moutinho
Having put in an imperious display at the Emirates three weeks back, Moutinho is confident of not only advancing past the first knockout stage, but also going all the way till the final.
“We can show our best qualities against the top teams,” he said. “Play in Ligue 1 is very closed, very aggressive. No one believed in us in the Champions League and yet we have really played well. We deserve to be where we are.”
“I have full confidence in our side, despite our lack of experience. With the team spirit we have we can go even further and why not a repeat of Monaco and Porto in 2004?”
Able to operate anywhere across the midfield, Moutinho is a veteran of sorts in the Monaco line-up and it will be a surprise if a bigger European club doesn’t swoop in for him in the summer. If he can continue to put in shifts like he has done, Monaco can go some distance in the competition with a favourable draw.
Arsenal – Oliver Giroud
11 goals from 13 starts in the Premier League are more than enough to compensate for a horrid first 60 minutes Giroud had in the Champions League since his return from a three month injury lay off in the first leg against Monaco. However, such fine are the margins in this competition that there is barely time to make up for mistakes, especially in the knockout rounds. And his misses are the reason Arsenal conceded the second and third goals as they went all out in attack.
A trip back to his homeland gives the Frenchman an opportunity to redeem himself and with six goals in his last eight Premier League games, he represents Arsenal’s best chance to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Despite his injury, only six players have scored more Premier League goals than his tally of 11 and he would have been up there with the top scorers had it not been for a freak injury at Goodison Park.
The Gunners have goals in them though it’s highly unlikely that they will find three in 90 minutes against the Monaco defence. However, they can grind out a narrow win although that will see them bow out of the competition at this stage for the 5th season in a row.