Monaco vs Arsenal: Gunners 'capable of winning'

There are few Champions League precedents for teams overturning a two-goal deficit, but Arsenal live in hope

Arsenal players
(Image credit: 2015 Getty Images)

History is not on the Gunners' side tonight as they look to make Monaco pay for the 3-1 humiliation they suffered at the Emirates last month.

The defeat in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 encounter was one of the most disappointing European performances in Arsene Wenger's 19-year reign as Arsenal manager, according to Jamie Redknapp.

Very few teams in the Champions League era have clawed back a two goal deficit from the first leg to go through to the next round. Throw in the fact that Monaco have not conceded three goals at home for three and a half years and the size of Arsenal's task becomes apparent.

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But might history work in their favour? No one is giving the Gunners much hope and they will run out in Monaco as rank underdogs. They can play without pressure and, as they showed three years ago when they beat AC Milan 3-0 in valiantly trying to overturn a 4-0 first leg deficit, Arsenal are dangerous when they don't give a damn.

Wenger certainly had the air of a man who knows he has nothing to lose in Monaco at Monday's pre-match press conference. "The statistics are against us, the result in the first leg is against us, we are conscious about that," he said. "I'm not worried about that because the desire is there, the belief is there. Football is not predictable but I can predict that the desire and belief will be there to do well."

If anything, the pressure will be on the shoulders of the Monaco players. Man for man they have far less experience of the Champions League knockout phases than their opponents, and how will they react to the expectation from the French public and fans? Then there's also the size of their stadium. With just 18,400 seats the Stade Louis II is no cauldron to strike the fear of God into Arsenal and the visitors will be roared on by their own band of travelling fans.

Finally, there's the professional pride of the Arsenal players, most of whom were embarrassed by their performance in the first leg. No one played worse than Olivier Giroud, the French striker who's been in good touch since Christmas in the Premier League. He left his shooting boots at home against Monaco three weeks ago, but he's determined to make his compatriots suffer tonight. "If you let the doubts enter your head it's even more difficult to cope," he told reporters. "I try to show my answers on the pitch."

Asked if he'd been affected by the criticism of his display in the first leg, Giroud replied: "I'm not used to reading the media. I know when I play well or not. I know how to bounce back."

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