Arsenal v Monaco: Champions League 2015
Champions League action tonight from the Emirates with Arsenal v Monaco and Leonardo Jardim’s side look like they’ll have to field a weakened defence for the fixture.
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Monaco have injury worries over left-back Layvin Kurzawa and winger Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco. Midfielders Jeremy Toulalan and Tiemou Bakayoko and defenders Ricardo Carvalho and Andrea Raggi are out.
Jack Wilshere looks set to be rested after ankle surgery and Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Mikel Arteta (ankle), Abou Diaby (calf) and Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder) are unavailable.
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Monaco, who qualified for this stage by topping Group C having conceded one goal, have not played Arsenal before but the French league club have done well against English opposition in knockout rounds previously.
In 1997, they eliminated Newcastle from the Uefa Cup to earn a place in the semi-finals, and then knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League the following year at the same stage.
Under coach Didier Deschamps, Monaco beat Chelsea in the semi-finals to reach the 2004 Champions League final.
It’s hardly surprising Arsenal are clear favourites to win the game considering their superior individual and collective ability and greater recent European pedigree. Monaco go into the game on a fantastic run of form – they’ve lost just once in 90 minutes in their last 17 matches in all competitions (W12-D4-L1) – but there are a couple of things to point out.
The first is that Monaco are simply not used to facing the sort of attacking talent that Arsenal can put out on Wednesday night. The second is that Monaco’s first-choice centre-backs – Ricardo Carvalho and Andrea Raggi – are both missing, as is key defensive midfielder Jeremy Toulalan.
Deputy centre-backs Wallace and Aymen Abdennour are likely to start. They have little experience of playing alongside one another and Abdennour looked anything but assured in getting sent-off in Monaco’s fortunate 1-0 win at Nice last Friday night.
Much has been made of Monaco’s sensational defensive record in recent months. There’s no question that they are a solid team – Monaco have kept a clean sheet in 90 minutes in 15 of their last 17 matches in all competitions.
However, in France Monaco simply don’t face the calibre of attacker that Arsenal can name in their team this week. The absence of their best two central defenders and a key midfielder is reason why Monaco may struggle to be as tight as they are in domestic fixtures.
Arsenal should prove too strong for the visitors, so the Asian handicap is a market to consider. By backing Arsenal -1.0 Asian handicap you’ll get your money back if Arsenal win by a single goal and make a profit at good odds if they win by two or more goals.
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