Arsenal get back to Champions League action this week.

Welcoming AS Monaco to the Emirates on Wednesday night, the Gunners will be hoping they can secure passage to the last 16 for the first time since the 09/10 season.

Their path has, as we know, been blocked by Barcelona and Bayern in those intervening years and the draw against Monaco, ridiculously kind to an Arsenal side that finished as runners-up in their group, looks as if it offers more than just a sliver of hope.

Not so thinks Arsene Wenger.

The Arsenal boss, and former Monaco manager, thinks the game will be a lot closer than many imagine, citing Principality’s tight defence as reason Arsenal are in for a tricky tie.

He told

“The last 16 in recent years has been super tough.

“This is a 50:50 game. We know that Monaco are very tight defensively – they didn’t concede in the group stage against good teams.

“Of course it will be tricky but a possible tie. It’s really a 50:50 because Monaco are in a similar position to us. They came back into a good position in the league and their confidence level will be high.

“[The emotional ties to the draw] have not been hard. What was important for me was to win [against Crystal Palace] because we fought like mad to come back in a strong position in the league, and not to win would have been disastrous.

“The spirit is there and we want to keep that as a very strong basis. The team has come up a level and we’ll see that with the results.”

Arsenal are currently in a great run of form, especially at home and they will be confident of doing a professional job ahead of the second leg on St. Patrick’s Day in Monaco.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.