Prediction: Arsenal vs. Monaco

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Arsenal host French side Monaco in the first leg of the last 16 of this season’s UEFA Champions League. Here is my prediction to the game on Wednesday night:

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Key Men:

Arsenal – Alexis Sanchez

He has been in fine form in his first season, and quotes from Santi Cazorla present what he means to the club, including saying ‘He is our star man and he has been soo important to us’. It is strange saying that Alexis has actually been out of the goal scorers club in the past few games, and I am sure that he would want to return to his tremendous form. We saw against Crystal Palace his work rate, and he showed soo much energy in the midfield that really gave Palace a scare. He was unfortunate to miss out on a goal, and I’m sure he will be dying to get onto the pitch and give Monaco a run for their money. Due to Monaco’s depleted defense due to injury, Alexis will be excited to be playing against a makeshift defence.

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Monaco – Geoffrey Kondogbia

If you thought Arsenal’s injury list was bad, Monaco’s will be shocking for you. Carvalho, Bakayoko and Raggi are all injured, and Toulalan is suspended for the Arsenal Game this week. (These are all Defenders or Defensive Midfielders). Therefore, their french prodigy Konodogbia will be the defensive rock against the likes of Alexis, Welbeck and Ozil, and he will most likely have a very difficult evening. Going forward, Monaco seem lack-luster, with star striker Radamel Falcao moving to Manchester United earlier this season. And so a defensive minded Monaco will be played. Konodogbia played very well against Arsenal during the 1-0 victory against Arsenal in the Emirates Cup, but will he be the stand out man? I think there is a good chance he will be. And could this performance lead to his signature to Arsenal for the summer? He has been linked by french links such as Le Equipe quietly all season, hinting at the propect. Would he be the right man?

How will Arsenal line up?

We have finally been blessed with a team other than Bayern Munich! Instead, French side Monaco join us for this fixture, bringing Wenger’s old team to North London. Due to their defense worries, Arsenal will most likely play an attacking minded team, with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck and possibly Jack Wilshere returning to the squad. The following game from this is Everton at home on the 1st March (Sunday 2:05pm) and so we have the leisure of fielding a stronger team against a weak Monaco team. I would expect a lineup similar to :

Arsenal XI:

Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Cazorla, Coquelin, Ozil, Alexis, Walcott and Welbeck/Giroud.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Monaco

I just can’t see Monaco scoring. During the group stages, they were only able to score 4 goals, while only conceding 1. With Ocampos moving to Marseille in the winter transfer window, Monaco’s strike force has been even more depleted, and they play us at the worse time. I am very confident going into this game, and a clean sheet will very much help us during the second leg. And with their weakened defense (Carrasco and Kurzawa may also be out)

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