Nathan Staples takes you through 10 key points ahead of Monaco’s showdown with Arsenal tonight.
Wenger’s Monaco curse
It’s an odd statistic, but Arsene Wenger has yet to beat Monaco as a manager. With four draws and three losses, the Arsenal boss hasn’t found a winning formula against his former club and to go through, his team has to be the first to turn over a two away goal deficit. It’s almost like all the stars are aligning against him.
Olivier Giroud in great form
One real positive that Arsenal can lean on is the form of their French forward Olivier Giroud. The former Montpellier man has scored six times in his last eight Premier League games, which includes three assists and it’ll be him leading the line against Monaco. He’s a talented striker and he needs to perform when Arsenal need his goals the most.
Monaco’s incredible defence
It’s been the talk of the town almost all season long, Monaco have played outstanding defensively regardless of the combination at the back. They’ve conceded just six goals in their last 22 games in all competitions and they haven’t conceded in three Champions League home matches. With the opposition desperately needing at least three goals, the signs are very positive for the principality club.
David Ospina is the Gunners number one
There should be little doubt know, David Ospina is the London club’s number one. The Columbian, well known in France for his spell with OGC Nice, showed exactly why he’s so highly rated in the World Cup and whilst it took a little while for him to dislodge Wojciech Szczesny, there’s no stopping him now. The team look much more assured with him in the team and they’ll need him to be focused in stopping Monaco pulling any further ahead.
Stade Louis II’s atmosphere
A concern for Monaco will be the atmosphere within the Stade Louis II. They’ve struggled to fill it, even on Champions League nights and that could be a factor should Arsenal gain any momentum. They’ll have plenty of vocal supporters there in what can be a very quiet home stadium so Monaco have to put in a performance that’ll get their small support fully behind them.
Walcott out of sorts?
It’s been a strange season for Theo Walcott and as contract talks look like they are starting up, he hasn’t got the platform he had last time around. Since returning from injury, he’s only started five games and has really fallen down the pecking order. If he plays any part in this one, he could be raring to show why he deserves a new contract or he’ll wilt a little under the pressure. Whatever way he goes, he’s certainly one to watch.
Injury problems for the principality?
Much like last time, a few little injuries could be a big factor for Monaco. Geoffrey Kondogbia and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco are doubts of this one, both scored last time out and it could give Leonardo Jardim less options going forward. However, with Jeremy Toulalan back and a fully-fit defence, they’ll be prepared to prove people wrong again.
Will Ozil be the key?
Since returning to the side after a spell on the sidelines, Mesut Ozil is reminding everyone of the quality that he possesses. He was excellent last weekend, linking attack and midfield with ease and his creative flair will be something Monaco will want to shut down quickly. If he’s allowed to play, he’s the one that can unlock that sturdy Monaco back-line.
Martial finally showing his talents
Whilst a lot will be focused on former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov, it’s youngster Anthony Martial that’s the striker in form. He’s scored three in his last two games and with others injured, he could be in line for a start. He’s promised a lot in the past but it finally looks like he’s beginning to deliver and he’ll be highly motivated to have his name in the lights against a high-profile club like Arsenal.
Attack versus defence
This could be a battle between two contrasting teams. You can expect Arsenal to go all-in early doors and it’s very likely that Monaco will reply by soaking up pressure before looking for space on the counter attack. It’s a very tall order for Arsene Wenger’s men and whilst they’ll still believe there is a chance, Monaco will be just as confident they can finish the job.