Sunday 21 January 2018

Six reasons Arsenal can overturn Champions League deficit

Granted it's hugely unlikely, but here are some straws for Arsenal fans to clutch at

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud reacts during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday February 23, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire
Arsenal's Olivier Giroud reacts during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday February 23, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire

Few outside of their most loyal supporters will back the Gunners to progress, but here is why there is still hope for Arsenal.

1. Overturning a two-goal home deficit has been done before in the Champions League

A mere 46 years have passed since the last time a team lost the first leg of a Champions League tie at home by two goals but ended up going through. On that occasion, in 1969, Ajax lost the first leg of a quarter-final against Benfica 3-1, before winning the return match by the same score, and then prevailing in a replay 4-0.

The fact that no team has overturned a two-goal home first-leg deficit since (it's been attempted 101 times in that period) should not be dwelt upon.

2. Monaco are better away from home

Leonardo Jardim's side have the best away record in Ligue 1 this season, but their home form is only the 11th best in the division. If we focus on that, and overlook Monaco's strong home form in the Champions League group stage, then Arsenal have another crumb of comfort to cling onto.

3. Arsenal won their last Champions League away game 4-1

All Arsène Wenger's side needs to do is repeat the scoreline from the trip to Galatasaray and they'll be through. Arsenal also won their previous European away trip - 2-1 against Anderlecht - so there's another straw to clutch on to.

4. Bastia beat Monaco recently - and they've got Sebastien Squillaci playing for them

That's right, a team containing Arsenal reject Squillaci at the heart of their defence were too good for Monaco. Bastia may only have won on penalties in the French Cup semi-final earlier this month, but surely Arsenal can draw inspiration from the fact that it was their former defender Squillaci who scored the winning spot-kick?

5. There's no atmosphere at the Stade Louis II

If you're someone who believes that the difficulty of an away trip depends on the decibel level (for instance match in Turkey = hard), then you'll agree that an away match at Monaco should be a doddle. The club's stadium is notoriously silent (no change for the Arsenal players there then - zing), and with a capacity of under 20,000 the atmosphere should be the opposite of intimidating.

6. Alexis Sanchez is really good at football

And just as importantly, he plays for Arsenal. If the brilliant Chilean (let's forget that he's without a goal in his last six matches) can produce his best form, then Arsenal have a very decent chance of scoring - and as the football cliche sort of goes, one brings three...

Telegraph.co.uk

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