ARSENAL become the third and final English side to tackle the Champions League knockout stages this season. How will they fare against Monaco? We asked Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79).
Arsenal v Monaco | Wednesday 19:45 | Sky Sports 5
After drawing Bayern Munich or Barcelona in three of the last four seasons (Milan in the other), Arsenal must be delighted to be up against French side Monaco in the Champions League Last 16 this time round.
If this is an exhibition of the finest 16 sides in Europe, then Monaco look a little out of place. In the French second tier just a couple of seasons ago, last year they finished second to PSG in Ligue 1. This year they’ve found it tougher.
Loaning Radamel Falcao to Manchester United at the start of the season has naturally weakened them and this year they lie down in fourth position, 11 points behind leaders Lyon.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh in my assessment, but this side don’t seem to exude the glam of their stunning location. They scored just four goals in winning the six game Group C in the earlier rounds. All six of their games went Under 2.5 Goals.
Domestically, it’s been a similar story with incredibly their last 11 Ligue 1 matches seeing fewer than three goals. With just 26 goals scored from 25 matches they sit alongside bottom three side Evian in terms of goals per game ratio (1.04 since you ask). If their record was transposed to the Premier League they’d be level with Burnley in GPG.
Of course, I’m failing to mention something important here, and that’s their defence. They conceded just one goal in the Champions League group stages, and in Ligue One are level with Lyon in the best defensive record chart.
The question worth posing is whether Arsenal can break them down on Wednesday? I’m hoping so. The Gunners have lost just one game at home in the league over the last 18 months and have certainly turned the Emirates into an intimidating place for teams to visit.
They beat Borussia Dortmund there in the group stages and have now won nine consecutive fixtures in the posh part of North London averaging around 2.5 goals per game.
The Gunners have performed well against French clubs of this ilk before. Marseille were beaten home and away in last season’s Champions League group stage, while the year before, Montpellier were handed similar treatment. I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar outcome occurs in this tie, as Arsenal with their course and distance form, should prove too strong.
The bookmakers certainly agree with Arsenal a best price 11/20 with BetVictor. The natural selection would be Arsenal to win to nil at 6/5, but again that’s pretty shot.
Arsenal have scored more than one in their last seven home matches so I’ll dabble in the Correct Scores here and back them to win 2-0 at 6/1 with Coral and 3-0 at a chunky 11/1 with BetVictor. As long as they keep that clean sheet (have in four of their last five home games) then I’m hoping this will oblige. My worst return will still pay out at 2/1, considerably better than the Win To Nil price.
Arsenal v Monaco – Arsenal to win 2-0 (6/1 Coral)
Arsenal v Monaco – Arsenal to win 3-0 (11/1 BetVictor)