“A game of two contrasting styles”, the description given by former Monaco and England star, Mark Hateley while previewing the upcoming Arsenal-Moncao clash with former teammate Glen Hoddle , both of whom were signed to the Stade Loius II in 1987 by Arsene Wenger.
Hoddle, with his Spurs allegiance well documented, seems to believe the Gunners could have enough to edge this first leg but just how does Wenger make sure of that?
- Strike a good balance
Arsenal were truly outplayed by Alan Pardew’s men last week but beyond the fact that it was an away tie, played on a pitch described by Cazorla as difficult, it may have happened due to an imbalance in midfield. As we have seen lately, Ozil tends to play in a more advanced role than in a midfield creative role and as such cannot be relied upon to help keep possession, duties which rest mostly on Cazorla and Coquelin. Both must start on Wednesday but an extra man in midfield to help keep possession will be necessary against a Monaco side boasting of two good holding players in Joao Moutinho and Jeremy Toulalan.
- Wilshere will thrive in this
And while Flamini and Rosicky appear suitable to be that extra midfielder, it does seem to me that this would be the appropriate game for Wilshere to be reintroduced into the team. He has had sufficient extra time to be fully refreshed having not been involved against Palace. Pairing up with Santi would help create from deep positions while providing real presence in the middle of the park to avoid being outplayed.
- Carry on the early start
A nice habit of this Arsenal team of late has been to settle the nerves early by scoring the first goal of the game before the 15th minute mark and against a team who will hope to see out a first half goalless, it will be a good way to upset their plans to continue this streak of early goals.
- But do not concede first
As much as the Gunners will be allowed the freedom to play, it is worth noting that the Monegasques are reputed for being hard to break down and they are capable of combining a good organized defensive shape with a good dose of pace on the counter. They have not won a game all season by more than two goals, they generally win by one goal and the Gunners must not let them take a lead.
- Do not even concede at all
For the same reason as cited above, a 2 – 1 win would put Leonardo Jardim’s men in the favoured booth to qualify as they will pull out the stops to work out a 1-0 win at Monaco. We do not see it ending as a scoreless draw, in which case the Gunners should ensure they are the only ones to score.
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