STADE LOUIS II, MONACO
17th March 2015, 1945 GMT
Arsenal travel to France and face Monaco in a desperate bid to find the three goals they need to qualify for the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.
After comprehensively beating Arsenal in the first leg of the Round of 16 match, Monaco would be looking to shut down any avenue for the gunners to score the goals they so badly need. With their season built on a stingy defence and multiple clean sheets, they will be quietly confident they can get the job done against an Arsenal side that seems to have picked up some winning towards the business end of the season.
Arsenal know that they have their task cut out, with a minimum of 3 goals needed for them to finally cross the Round of 16 barrier and move to the quarterfinals after quite some time. It will be fair to say that Arsenal fans would not have expected to be waiting nervously for the 2nd leg of a round of 16 game that they would have thought would be easier to negotiate than the constant beatings they got from the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona over the past few years. Whether the prolific Arsenal side comes out tonight would be something to wait and watch.
Team News and Tactics
Monaco come into this game in fine fashion, having comfortable won 3-0 against Bastia in the French league. Despite Kurzawa missing a penalty, Monaco did not have too much to sweat, especially with 2 red cards being shown to Bastia players. However, they would be well aware that Arsenal would be a completely different beast when compared with a 12th placed Ligue 1 side, and will set themselves up to negate any attacking moves the gunners may come up with.
Monaco have a few personnel problems going into the game, with Geoffrey Kondogbia, Jeremy Toulalan and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco all doubtful for the game. Providing they prove their fitness, they should all go into the starting lineup without a second thought. Monaco will be without Bakayoko, Raggi and Traore. While it would be a defensive setup that Monaco are likely to come out with, they should take heed from Chelseaa s predicament against PSG and look to kill the game early itself rather than try to get 10 men behind the wall, a plan which could very well backfire.
Predicted Line Up: Subasic; Kurzawa, Wallace, Abdennour, Toure; Toulalan, Kondogbia; Ferreira-Carasco, Moutinho, Dirar; Berbatov
Arsenal know what it will take for them to reach the quarterfinals and they seem to have made some good preparations of their own, with a comfortable 3-0 win against West Ham, the exact scoreline they need to get against Monaco. But if past experiences are anything to go by, they will probably score just enough to get knocked out by one goal in a heartbreaking end for the Arsenal fans, just like it happened with Bayern Munich and AC Milan in the past. But this time, Arsenal do have the cavalry to make something happen, and with the likes of Cazorla and Ozil in top form, the fans would be hoping to see a miracle happen.
Arsenal welcomed back Gabriel Paulista, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy back to training, but they are still some way away from making a comeback to the team while Oxlade-Chamberlain will also be out for some time. Jack Wilshere still hasna t seemed to have recovered while Tomas Rosicky is a doubt for the game, pending a fitness test. Arsenal certainly have the firepower to make the miracle happen, but they would need to ensure a clean sheet if they are to have any chance at all.
Predicted Line Up: Ospina; Monreal, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Bellerin; Coquelin, Ramsey; Ozil, Cazorla, Alexis; Giroud
- Arsenal have come away as winners in their last 6 trips to France.
- Monaco have conceded only twice in their entire Champions League campaign this season.
- Arsenal havena t reached the Quarterfinals of the Champions League since 2010.
Although Arsenal have the firepower to score the goals, it is difficult to see Monaco allowing them the space or the time to open up the defence. While the gunners may come away with a win from this match, it is likely they will not have the necessary scoreline to qualify for the next round.
Predicted Score: Monaco 1-2 Arsenal