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ARSENAL

vs

MONACO

Emirates Stadium, London

25th February 2015, 1945 GMT

Arsenal welcomes AS Monaco for the first leg of the Round of 16 fixture in the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal may not be playing their best football, but they have picked up the knack of collecting 3 points despite being poor, as evidenced in the games against Leicester City and Crystal Palace. However, there is a danger that this game might go the way of the defeat to Tottenham, especially if they do not make their chances count. Monaco have a very mean defence and the gunners need to capitalize on any opening they may find.

Monaco may have lost 6 games in their Ligue 1 campaign so far, but they have the joint best defence in the league, tied with PSG. While the defence has not been their problem, the 26 goals in the league so far show that their attack is practically toothless, with the French club finding it really hard to score goals. While the gunners do give opportunities for the opposition to score, Monaco may not have the necessary players to punish the Londoners.

Team News and Tactics

Arsenal

Arsenal are in the rare position where they have more players available for every position than the ones that are missing. However, Jack Wilshere will not be taking part in this match, with Arsene Wenger ruling him out for the game. Wilshere hasna t had a setback, however Arsene feels hea s been trying too hard in training and needed to be rested.

Goalkeeper David Ospina is fit for the game, having trained after what seemed like a back problem during the game against Crystal Palace, and is likely to start once again, ahead of Wojciech Szczesny. Arteta, Debuchy, Diaby and Ramsey are still ruled out, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returned to full training though it is doubtful if he will play any part in the game.

Arsene Wenger is likely to go with the same team that played against Crystal Palace, with the only change likely to be Walcott coming in for Welbeck. With Hector Bellerin fit again, he could replace Calum Chambers at Right Back, with the rest of the back 4 being the same. Ozil will likely continue in the number 10 position, with Cazorla playing alongside Coquelin.

Predicted Line Up: Ospina; Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Bellerin; Coquelin, Cazorla; Alexis, Ozil, Walcott; Giroud

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Monaco

Monaco were one of the stingiest teams in the group stage of the Champions League, having conceded only one goal in all 6 fixtures combined. At the same time, they were also one of the lowest scoring teams to qualify for the knockout rounds, with 3 of their games finishing 1-0 and 2 others at 0-0. Only one game saw more than 2 goals being scored. While at the outset it might look like not such a great record to go far in the competition, keeping a clean sheet and scoring one or two odd goals is indeed the best way to survive the knockout rounds.

Monaco could be without Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco and Layvin Kurzawa due to injuries, with Almamy Toure to be the likely replacement for the Left Back. They will be hoping Carrasco is fit enough to start as Monaco are already without Tiemou Bakayoko, Andrea Raggi and Ricardo Carvalho due to long term injuries. They would also have to cope with the absence of Jeremy Toulalan, who is suspended for this game, which would likely see Joao Moutinho partenering Geoffrey Kondogbia in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Predicted Line Up: Subasic; Kurzawa, Wallace, Abdennour, Fabinho; Moutinho, Kondogbia; Ferreira-Carrasco, Silva, Dirar; Berbatov

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Key Facts

  1. This will be the first competitive game between Arsenal and Monaco.
  2. Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 5 Champions League games.
  3. Monaco have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 6 games in the Champions League.

Prediction

This will be a clear battle between the home sidea s attack versus the visiting sidea s defence. Arsenal have scored a minimum of 2 goals in their last 5 games in the Champions League, and will be hoping to continue the statistic so that they can put the game to bed. It will not be an easy task however, and will require taking every chance they get in front of the Monaco defence.

Predicted Score: Arsenal 1-0 Monaco