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Preview: Monaco v Arsenal, Team News, Starting XI & Prediction
Arsenal are looking to pull off a miracle in Monaco this evening in order to qualify for the quarter finals of the Champions League.
We’ve left ourselves a mountain to climb after a hugely disappointing 3-1 defeat at home in the first leg three weeks ago so we know we need to score at least three goals tonight to stand any chance of progressing.
We couldn’t have responded to the defeat at the Emirates any better having won all three of our games, including a 3-0 win over West Ham on Saturday, so we should be full of confidence heading into the match.
However, while I think we have the firepower to pull off something special tonight, Monaco have only ever lost three Champions League games at home, so we’re going to need luck to go our way if we want to make it through to the last eight.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out for at least three weeks after pulling his hamstring last week.
Gabriel Paulista is back in contention after returning to training on Sunday but I think Arsene will stick with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny at the back.
Tomas Rosicky hasn’t travelled due to illness so he joins Jack Wilshere on the sidelines.
Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy are back in light training but are still at least two weeks away from their return to fitness.
Monaco should be stronger than they were in the first leg as they have several players back from injury.
Jeremy Toulalan and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco are back in contention while Georffrey Kondogbia is expected to start after shaking off a minor knock.
The big decision that Wenger has to make it who to leave out in midfield. Aaron Ramsey returned to the side with a fine display against West Ham at the weekend but I fully expect the boss to recall Santi Cazorla tonight.
He could push Mesut Ozil out wide to accommodate both Ramsey and Cazorla in the middle but I’d prefer to see the German remain in the middle where he’s far more effective.
If Wenger goes for that option, he may start Welbeck on the right wing but I’d prefer to see Walcott given the nod. Theo’s finishing was poor against the Hammers but the important thing is he gets in to dangerous positions and is a huge goal threat. We need to score at least three so for me, Walcott should start.
Unfortunately, I think this game has ‘glorious failure’ written all over it and in the end, I think we’re going to rue conceding the third goal late on at the Emirates. If we score early, who knows what can happen, but I think in the end we might level things up at 3-3 on aggregate but just miss out on away goals. Monaco 0-2 Arsenal (3-3 agg)