Arsenal (4-1-1) host Monaco (3-2-1) at the Emirates on
|Date & Time||Wednesday February 25, 2015, 2:45 PM (EST)|
Odds: Arsenal (1.50) - Draw (4.20) - Monaco (8.00) / Over 2.5 (2.40) - Under 2.5 (1.70)
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Monaco visit Arsenal as one of the few teams that remains competitive in all of their possible competitions. Monaco has been a horribly boring side to watch this season but their fans cannot complain as the results have been going their way. With an immense defensive maturity they have been able to keep their distance with the top contenders in Ligue 1 and also remain competitive in the Cup and European competition. Although they do not score loads of goals, they are the team that has conceded the least amount of goals in the entire French league. Additionally with players of the calibre and experience of Dmitar Berbatov and Joao Moutinho it is no surprise that they will be a challenge for Arsenal.
With the sale of Lucas Ocampos to Marseille, Monaco have lost even more fire power in attack and in my opinion probably have an exit out of the Champions League in the very near future. With Arsenal returning to the Top 4 in the Premier League and the return of Ozil, Walcott and Wilshere in midfield, Arsenal passed from being a team that had a hard time finding enough players in midfield to being a team that can’t choose their starting midfield players due to the amount of quality in that area. Expect Arsenal to control the ball during this match-up as it is the way they prefer to play and Monaco will most likely allow them to keep the ball for very long periods.
Tactically speaking, Monaco will sit back and try to keep their goal as safe as possible in order to have a chance to fight back in France during the second leg. Moreover, it suits their style of play since they do possess some very fast youngsters namely Martial who can play a key role in the counter attack. For this reason, the game will be finely poised and it will be in Arsenal’s midfield where the game is decided. If the likes of Flamini, or Ramsay are careless and lose possession whilst trying to build the pressure a quick break could be all it takes for Arsenal to find themselves in a very tough spot. For this reason, the control in midfield is a key factor. There is no doubt that Arsenal is the more talented team and playing in the Emirates is where these players are usually at their best, for this reason expect a big game from Alexis Sanchez and Giroud. With Monaco closing down very well, Giroud might be their only chance as the game goes on and crossing the ball becomes the only possible alternative to get the ball in the 12 feet box.
In my opinion, the only way Monaco leaves the Emirates with something is if they keep their defensive structure and their concentration at all times. However with the evasive Alexis Sanchez on the loose and the passing quality of Cazorla and Özil it might be very difficult to cut the flow of Arsenal’s passing. For this reason I am going with the Arsenal victory at odds of 1.50. If you find these odds to be very low for your liking the Under 2.5 goals is also a great alternative as Monaco will try to keep the score as close as possible for the second leg.