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Champions League quarterfinal spot in sight for Monaco

Arsenal looking for Champions League miracle at Monaco as Wenger returns to former club

Coach of Monaco Leonardo Jardim reacts challenges during the French League One soccer match, Monaco vs Bastia in Monaco stadium, Friday, March 13, 201...

France Soccer League One

Coach of Monaco Leonardo Jardim reacts challenges during the French League One soccer match, Monaco vs Bastia in Monaco stadium, Friday, March 13, 201...

PARIS (AP) -- For Arsenal, the equation is quite simple: Write a page of Champions League history or endure another early exit from Europe's top competition.

No team has managed to progress after losing at home by more than two goals since the inception of the tournament in 1992, a feat that the Gunners are now forced to achieve when they travel to Monaco following a 3-1 loss at the Emirates in the first leg.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who coached Monaco for seven years, has led the Premier League side to this stage of the lucrative tournament 15 straight times but his players did not make it to the quarterfinals in the past four years.

Despite the fact that that Monaco is arguably the best defensive team in Europe, with only 20 goals conceded in 28 games so far in the French league, Wenger remains confident he can overturn the deficit.

"I'd prefer to be 3-0 up but we have no choice. We have to put it right. Sometimes in life, you make a big mistake, and there's no comeback, no way you get the chance to put it right again," Wenger said. "In football, you can do it, so let's just give everything to do it."

Here are some things to know about Tuesday's return leg:



Monaco's 3-1 win in north London was a tactical triumph masterminded by Leonardo Jardim.

Since taking over from Claudio Ranieri last year, the low-profile, no-nonsense Portuguese coach has brilliantly coped with the club's change of development strategy, rebuilding a balanced squad mixing talented youngsters and seasoned veterans.

When he arrived in the Principality, the former Sporting and Olympiakos coach was thrilled at the prospect of working with Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez. But the pair of starts left for bigger clubs, forcing Jardim to change his plans.

With a limited strike force at his disposal, he quickly abandoned his plans of developing a vein of attacking football, instead building a defensive fortress capable of mounting lethal counter-attacks, as the Gunners witnessed two weeks ago.

"I know that our team is very young but they are very talented players," Monaco striker Dimitar Berbatov said. "With a mix of experience and youth, if you do what your coach says and you prepare well, you can see the result."



Alongside Belgian winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, 19-year-old forward Anthony Martial is leading the new crop of Monaco youngsters.

The highly-praised Martial has been in stellar form recently, setting up Berbatov's goal against Arsenal and netting two goals over the weekend in a 3-0 win over Bastia in the French league.

Nurtured at Lyon and sold to Monaco for 5 million euros ($5.3 million) in 2013, the fast and powerful forward has taken full advantage of Falcao and Rodriguez's departures to establish himself as a versatile player capable of playing as center forward or on the right.

Martial remains behind Berbatov in Jardim's pecking order, but does not want to rush things too much.

"I'd like to play more, but there is the great Berbatov in Monaco," Martial said. "I can show what I'm worth when he is lacking fitness, but I need to be content with what I'm given."



Olivier Giroud endured a nightmare performance against Monaco with several bad misses. But the France striker has scored three goals in four appearances since then as Arsenal recovered from its poor display in the first leg.

"If you let the doubts enter your head it is even more difficult to cope," Giroud said. "There are always tough moments like that because we do a hard job.

"You have to question yourself every week and bounce back. I try to show my answer on the pitch with my mentality."



Arsenal is enjoying fine form domestically, only one point behind second-place Manchester City.

Wins over Everton, Queens Park Rangers and West Ham in the Premier League and Manchester United in the FA Cup has put Arsenal's domestic campaigns back on track, and the team has the attacking players to score the goals required at Stade Louis II.

"We learned from our mistakes and we will go there (to Monaco) with a lot of confidence," Giroud said. "The first leg was a bad day for all the team, but we have not talked about it too much, we needed to focus on our training and how we were going to work."


AP Sports Writer Rob Harris in London contributed to this report.

Updated : 2021-09-22 06:54 GMT+08:00