AS Monaco vs Arsenal - Competition: Champions League − 2014/2015 − Round of 16 (second leg)
AS Monaco welcome Arsenal to the Stade Louis II with a commanding lead after conquering the Emirates Stadium 3:1 in dominant fashion. The Red and Whites could seemingly do no wrong on the day, as they tactically outmaneuvered the Gunners while playing with more spirit and confidence on such a grand stage. They have now won 5 of their last 7 matches in all competitions and were very comfortable in their 3:0 win over Bastia on Friday in league action. Rising star Anthony Martial bagged 2 of their 3 goals on either side of halftime, and despite his tender years he could get handed another start here in the UCL. But it has been the defence that has frustrated so many opponents this season, as the hosts have conceded just 2 total goals through 7 UCL matches in this year’s competition. Furthermore, they have allowed in just 1 goal in their last 12 competitive fixtures at the Stade Louis II, and there’s plenty of reason for optimism for their survival here. However, they would be wise not to overlook an Arsenal side that can score goals in a flurry, and in the end they could find themselves holding on for their Champions League lives. It may be important to point out that Kondogbia is questionable to play and Jeremy Toulalan is suspended, possibly leaving a gaping hole in the middle of the park.
Arsenal team refused to hang their heads after falling to a catastrophic 1:3 defeat in the first leg, instead bouncing back with 4 consecutive wins in all competitions. That stretch included a massive 2:1 road victory over Man United in the FA Cup, and after their impressive 3:0 win over West Ham United on Saturday, the Gunners will travel to France with a head of steam and a camp full of confidence. The return of Aaron Ramsey provides the Londoners with a much-needed extra goalscorer, and the Welshman was superb last time out. However, the big question mark coming into this match is Olivier Giroud, as the Frenchman enjoyed a wonderful performance over the weekend but had an abysmal display against AS Monaco in the first leg. Furthermore, he doesn’t have a good goalscoring record against the hosts (played for Montpellier in Ligue 1), and the boss must make the right decision between the Frenchman and Danny Welbeck. Wenger has seen his side come close in recent years in overturning these kind of results, as they have defeated Milan (3:0) and Bayern Munich (2:0) while also tying the German champions 1:1 last season. While all of these second-leg results ultimately eliminated the Gunners, it points to a fighting spirit in this team and they will come out with confidence on Tuesday evening. An early goal would see the nerves of the home fans spike to severe levels, and if the visitors can avoid any catastrophes at the back, they should exact some revenge here whether they manage to overturn the deficit or not.
AS Monaco: Subasic – Toure, Abdennour, Carvalho, Kurzawa – Toulalan (Fabinho), Kondogbia – Dirar, Moutinho, Ferreira-Carrasco (Martial) – Berbatov.
Arsenal: Szczesny – Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal – Coquelin, Ramsey – Sanchez, Ozil, Cazorla – Giroud.
Match date: Tuesday, 17 March 2015
Kick Off Time: 19:45 GMT - 8:45 PM
Venue: Stade Louis II (Monaco, France)