We will see tonight whether playing at home in the first leg is a disadvantage. Personally I have never quite subscribed to that notion as it depends entirely on the two teams and how the execute their football. Monaco are more than likely going to try and frustrate us, sit deep and look to hit us on the break when they can. As the Suburban Gooners points out in today's blog, this feels very much like prior to the Middlesbrough match. They were being talked up as a wonderfully organised and difficult team to beat which I am sure they are but the success or failure to take control of this tie will be in our hands.
With the quality we have standing in positions ahead of Francis Coquelin, we have all the tools to turn this home leg to our advantage rather than the other way around. I am sure we will be looking to approach the game in the same way we did against Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium. We may well look to hem them into their own half, play aggressively by in not allowing them any time on the ball and pass quickly around their penalty area to open them up. If we manage to score early then I fancy us to score another one or two to set us up for the return.
If we do not manage to find our fluency then we could see a nervy and tight game, one where we are trying to avoid making a mistake as we push on. We've been there before, let's hope it is not tonight.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in the squad and that is terrific news, even if we are unlikely to see him at all this evening. Hector Bellerin should come back into the team, especially in a match where we are going to try and force the issue. The rest of the team looks pretty obvious as Wilshere misses out and Ramsey is not yet back. So we are back to the weekly query. Welbeck or Walcott?
It seems to be the only question mark these days. By now everyone knows what strengths both players bring to the team. Welbeck is an important cog in a team that want to keep you pressed in your own half. We saw his effectiveness against Crystal Palace by winning the penalty single handedly from what was essentially a poor Giroud pass that wasn't troubling anybody. But in a game at home where you want to score goals, what better wide right sided player is there than Theo Walcott? The other point to factor in here is the game time. Walcott has not started for the last two games, can Arsène leave him out for three in a row? It would be a big call but ultimately he has to make the right decision based on the team. Welbeck is almost a certainty for Monaco away but maybe, just maybe Theo will get a chance tonight at home to try and grab the first goal that he manages to do so often.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up
I want Mesut Özil to light up the pitch tonight, I saw signs in the Palace match that he is ready to do that. It was difficult on that day because we couldn't play as much and the pitch was rubbish. The pitch will be wonderful tonight as it always is and we will have the ball so if there is to be a difference maker, I am backing the German.
Short preview today as I have too much to do before I can settle down and watch the game. The match Podcast will be recorded on Thursday evening so I'll get that out for Thursday night or the latest Friday morning depending what life throws my way. Tim Stillman will be featuring so make sure you have a listen.
Enjoy the game and here is hoping for three points and a clean sheet