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Arsene Wenger spent seven years at Monaco before being snapped up by Arsenal and has many happy (and sad) memories of his time in the principality. He has admitted he was shocked to be drawn against his old club in the knockout stages – as he expected to get one of the European heavyweights as usual!
“To be honest it was a surprise,” Wenger told UEFA.com. “Because I always expect the most prestigious team to come out against us – that has happened the last five or six years. It’s also one of those strange coincidences in life, because between them these two clubs account for 25 years of my life. That’s very unusual, to meet in the Champions League. It was a little bit of an emotional shock.”
UEFA.com: You finished second in your group again. After the previous four seasons and the setbacks you have had at this stage, was that a concern?
Wenger: “It was, yes! We were always in difficult groups, and this year we were level on points with Dortmund but finished second in the group. It was a big concern, because we previously got Bayern, Barcelona, AC Milan, with the second game obviously away. But this time I think it’s 50-50 and that means we have a chance. It will be down to the quality of our performance.”
UEFA.com: We all know about Arsenal’s attacking qualities, while Monaco conceded only once in the group stage; how do you see the first leg in north London?
Wenger: “When the first game is at home, you play with the desire to score but know that every goal you concede can be deadly. You must find a balance between free-spirited attacking and being cautious enough to defend well – that will be down to experience. We have experience in this competition; this is a good opportunity to show it.”
We all know how good Monaco are at defending and snatching a goal on the counter-attack, but I am sure that Wenger will have a master plan to beat his old emloyers. I am sure that he will want revenge for sacking him in 1994!