A fine week to be an Arsenal fan began with a win at Old Trafford and ended with a fine 3-0 over West Ham, but is asking for the same result in Monaco a bridge too far?
Tuesday night sees The Gunners travel to Monaco looking to overturn a 3-1 first leg defeat in London.
A win in Monaco would be hard enough, but chasing three away goals while remaining tight at the back seems a huge ask.
While we did create opportunities in the first leg, Monaco are yet to concede at home so far in this season’s Champions League. The best defence in the competition is not the one you want to be facing when you need (at least) three goals.
The form we have been showing lately, along with solidity at the back, is promising, but we will have to be right at the top of our game to pull this one off.
We remain as we were at the weekend, at least in terms of who the manager has available. A rare occurrence!
Mikel Arteta is a few weeks away, and we will be very careful with Jack Wilshere. Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Gabriel Paulista (both hamstring) are still out.
After a fairly convincing and fluid display at the weekend Arsène Wenger will have some decisions to make ahead of the trip.
Héctor Bellerín and Santi Cazorla were both on the bench on Saturday, but would be expected to come back into the side. Calum Chambers would naturally drop out to make way for Bellerín, but fitting Cazorla in would be more of a headache.
Francis Coquelin will keep his place in midfield, Mesut Özil has been in fantastic form, and Aaron Ramsey was back to his brilliant best against West Ham. Theo Walcott fluffed his lines in front of goal, Danny Welbeck and Santi Cazorla will both be vying for his slot in the side.
Possibly Mesut Özil will be shifted wide to make way for Cazorla.
Possible XI: Ospina; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin; Özil, Ramsey, Cazorla, Alexis; Giroud.
Since we last faced Monaco their form has been a bit inconsistent. A double header against PSG saw a 0-0 draw in the league before the club from the capital knocked Monaco out of the Coupe de France.
Those fixtures were followed up by two wins – a 3-1 win in an even game against struggling Evian, and finally a comfortable 3-0 at home to Bastia on Friday evening. Bastia had a man sent off at 1-0 and ended the game with nine men, posing no threat whatsoever.
The Monaco we faced was depleted, and that won’t be the case to the same extent this time around.
Talented left-back Layvin Kurzawa has returned, and the experienced Jérémy Toulalan has served his suspension. Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, who scored the third at The Emirates didn’t play on Friday amid injury fears, nor did Geoffrey Kondogbia.
Anthony Martial’s form may even earn him a start in the place of Dimitar Berbatov, though, if he starts, he will probably reprise his role back out wide.
Possible XI: Subašić; Touré, Carvalho, Abdennour, Kurzawa; Silva, Fabinho, Moutinho; Dirar, Berbatov, Ferreira-Carrasco.
The Impossible Dream
Three of our last four Champions League knockout ties have ended in glorious defeat at this very stage.
It’s the hope that kills you. But also the hope that keeps you going.
An early goal isn’t even strictly required in this one. We only really need to be 1-0 up going into the final 10 minutes to have our very slim chance.
European glory looks so far away at 3-1 down, but I would love us to keep that dream alive for at least one more round.
Come on, Arsenal. Please.