Tall order may just be beyond the back-in-form Gunners
Arsene Wenger believes that his Arsenal team have a second chance to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League following the debacle of the first leg of their last 16 tie with Monaco at the Emirates.
But the history books suggest that the French team already have one, if not both, of their feet already in the hat for the next round.
No team has recovered from more than a single-goal deficit going into an away leg in the Champions League era and Monaco’s defensive record is one of the best in Europe. The Gunners have won all four matches since losing the first leg, however, with Olivier Giroud scoring in three of these games.
But they’d also won three in a row prior to the first leg so that’s not really a reliable guide. Monaco rode their luck at times in the first game but were clinical when they needed to be and weren’t afraid to go seeking another goal after conceding late on.
Giroud’s current good form could mean he gets the nod again over Danny Welbeck for the central striker role at the Stade Louis II, even though he had a nightmare in the first leg.
Welbeck scored Arsenal’s winner against former club Manchester United in the FA Cup but only made the bench for Saturday’s win over West Ham. Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy are all long-term absentees for the Gunners and have been joined on the sidelines by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored his side’s goal in the first leg.
But Theo Walcott is in good form and Aaron Ramsey’s return has strengthened the Londoners’ midfield. Andrea Raggi, Lacine Traore and Tiemoue Bakayoko all miss out for Leonardo Jardim’s team but they’ve yet to concede a goal at home in the competition so far this season and only Real Madrid have a better record in Champions League at home among teams who play regularly in the competition.
And what would former Spurs star Dimitar Berbatov give for another goal against the Gunners?
The Bulgarian is 9/4 to be an anytime scorer while Ramsey, who has a good record in Europe, is 10/3 in the same market.
With a two-goal advantage, Monaco don’t have to be in a rush to do anything but an early goal for Arsenal would have the nerves jangling and disturb the locals. Wenger’s team could just upset the apple cart with a win (5/4) but may not be able to repair the damage in total.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Tuesday, March 17 at Stade Louis II, Monaco.