Tuesday 23 January 2018

Wenger takes Arsenal's winning habit into Monaco tie

C Palace 1 Arsenal 2

Crystal Palace's Yannick Bolasie in action with Arsenal's Calum Chambers
Crystal Palace's Yannick Bolasie in action with Arsenal's Calum Chambers
Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez is pulled back by Crystal Palace's Pape Souare
Crystal Palace's Glenn Murray scores their first goal

Arsenal prepared for their Champions League game against Monaco with a completely different footballing test.

At Selhurst Park on Saturday they came under intense aerial bombardment which they held off just long enough to win the game, as Olivier Giroud celebrate his 50th goal since moving to the Emirates.

On Wednesday, at the Emirates, they will play a very  different game, against a canny, disciplined Monaco side who will be far less quick to launch the ball into the box.

Arsene Wenger, though, speaking after his team nearly threw away a 2-0 lead against Crystal Palace, said his team would take this confidence back into Europe.

“It is good preparation to win a game,” Wenger said. “You recover more quickly when you win. But physically, it was very demanding.”

Wenger was impressed by the resilience of his players, who survived the late scare of Glenn Murray pulling one goal back and nearly adding another. “The spirit is there,” he said.

“It was about fighting, and in the second half we played much more to protect our advantage.

“We want to keep that because we have been to some very tough places. We have fought like mad to come back in a strong position in the league. Not to win at Palace would have been disastrous.”

Disaster averted, Arsenal can now focus on trying to reach the Champions League quarter-finals, although Wenger is full of respect for the Ligue 1 side he managed from 1987 to 1994.

“The last 16 in recent years has been super-tough, but this is a 50-50 game,” he said. “Monaco are very tight defensively. So it’s two good teams. For us, it is a tricky but possible tie.”

Monaco started slowly after a difficult summer, but Leonardo Jardim has got them well-organised and Wenger knows they will be difficult to break down.

 “They have followed a similar pattern to us,” he said. “They have come back in their championship. So their confidence will be high.” (© Independent News Service)

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