ARSENAL are staring down the barrel of Champions League elimination. Can they escape the bullet? We asked Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79).
Monaco v Arsenal | Tuesday 19:45 | ITV1
Hands up if you called the first leg of this match correctly? Yeah not one hand in sight. Not one. If you've got YOUR hand up, put it down, your lying!
We'd been told how poor Monaco were, we'd been told how it was a great draw for Arsenal, we'd been told how the French side don't do goals. Oh dear!
Yes, the first leg three weeks ago in London ended in a shock 3-1 win for Monaco and it leaves Arsenal with a phenomenal task as they aim to reach the Quarter-Finals. To Qualify odds as big as 6/1 testify to that.
The English media were convinced Arsenal would breeze through the first leg three weeks ago, and there's definitely an element of that again here with Arsenal as short as 5/4 with some firms.
Most people seem to think Arsenal will fall agonisingly close to qualifying. After all, no one does that better. In three of their last four consecutive Last 16 defeats they lost by the odd goal or on away goals.
A couple of examples of great, but ultimately fruitless, Arsenal drama include the 2012 elimination by AC Milan where they were 4-0 down after the first leg only to be 3-0 up in the second leg before half-time. Of course they couldn't finish it off. Then in 2013, they had the audacity to beat Bayern 2-0 in Munich after losing 3-1 at the Emirates in the opening leg.
It's these kind of so-near-yet-so-far storylines you'd find in a crap daytime TV soap. Arsenal are that character that everyone likes that never manages to find love and fulfilment. You just wouldn't be surprised at all if the same scenario played out on Tuesday night with Arsenal falling agonisingly close. A 2-0 Arsenal win is 12/1 with BetVictor FYI.
I'm happy to walk away from the soap storylines and English plotlines and pay some dues to Monaco actually. I'm not sure they've been given enough respect for their first leg endeavours. Coral go 12/5 that they win this home match. Let's look at the figures…
Monaco are in fourth place in Ligue 1. They have the meanest defence in the league. They've lost just one of their last 13 Ligue 1 matches. At home they haven't lost since 27th September last year. That's 16 unbeaten to me and you. And they haven't conceded a goal at home in the league since November.
Pretty impressive eh? Yeah but they play in France, that's not exactly a top-class league. Well actually, the team who've dominated the Premier League all season have just been dumped out the Champions League by a Ligue 1 side. And for all that Arsenal are buzzing at the moment, well isn't that the best time to take them on? They always mess up.
With the prices on show, I'm duty-bound to side with Monaco. Ill have a small stake on them at 12/5 to maintain their outstanding home record. Arsenal will surely gaps to exploit as they bid to climb back into the tie. I'll pay the French side some much-deserved respect and back them here.
Oh no, what am I doing? Yeah, the soap fan in me can't resist a throwaway fiver at another so-near-yet-so-far heartbreaking Arsenal two-leg loss in a 2-0 win for them. I'm a sucker for brave defeat you see, I'm Scottish after all.
Monaco v Arsenal – Monaco to win (12/5 Coral)
Monaco v Arsenal – Arsenal to win 2-0 (12/1 BetVictor)
Aye aye captain! Betfair are offering new players 7/1 on Arsenal beating Monaco on Tuesday night. Who's keen?