In the build up to this Champions League knockout double-header against Monaco, almost all of the talk has been about the Arsenal attack against the Monaco defence. Although both clubs have been in a great run of form, it is clear that their success is based largely on not conceding goals and trying to nick one at the other end.
And the Gunners are famed largely for our creative and attacking prowess, even though we have become stronger defensively this season and last. But if Arsene Wenger and the players go into the clash expecting it to be just one-way traffic with just the odd counter attack, I think we could be in for a shock.
For one thing, Monaco will know that away goals are much more important at this point than in the group stage, so that should encourage them to try a bit harder to score one. And for another, it looks like their defence could be without three regular first teamers.
Perhaps that is why their midfielder Jeremy Toulalan suggested this week, as reported by The Mirror, that it would be folly for Monaco to simply try to soak up pressure.
He said, “We will never play a defensive system – that would be a disaster, because to let Arsenal have the ball in London would mean suffering too many attacks in our area for 90 minutes.
“Arsenal are doing well and scoring goals but we go in to the match at the Emirates without fear.
“The demands will be on Arsenal this week because they are at home.”
With the wealth of attacking options available to Wenger, he is right and I think they might try to surprise us by being more adventurous, especially at the start. If they could nick an early goal it would give them a big boost and something to hold on to while increasing the pressure on our players.
But if we are ready for it, that could play right into our hands. How do you expect tomorrow’s game to pan out?