Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side host AS Monaco at Emirates Stadium on Sunday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Monaco qualified for the knockout stage having scored just four goals and conceded only one in their six group C matches, and this defensive-minded approach is likely to continue at the Emirates.
They averaged just 44 per cent of possession in those games - and recorded the second-fewest shots of the 32 teams in the competition - so expect a predominantly counter-attacking strategy from coach Leonardo Jardim.
Jardim is an intelligent tactician who studies the opposition in depth and chooses his strategy accordingly, will have witnessed Arsenal’s dismantling of Galatasaray and Aston Villa at home this season, and should therefore be dissuaded from using a high defensive line.
Instead, expect Monaco to defend close to the edge of their own box, with veteran Ricardo Carvalho the key defender. Andrea Raggi has often been his partner this season and provides experience, but youngster Wallace might be a better bet because of his superior mobility.
One of Monaco’s main areas of strength, however, is in the two full-back positions. Right-sided Fabinho is exactly what you expect from a Brazilian going forward, although he’s also a feisty tackler. Left-sided Layvin Kurzawa is arguably a more technical player, but both are capable of flying forward unexpectedly on the overlap, so Arsenal's wide midfielders must be defensively disciplined when required.
Jardim has played both a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 formation this season, but is likely to prefer the former because it provides a more solid core to his side.
The primary defensive midfielder is likely to be Jeremy Toulalan, an experienced, dependable and extremely reliable holding player who offers an impressive positional ability and keeps his distribution simple. He’s also capable of dropping between the centre backs when the full backs push forward.
The main creative threat will be Joao Moutinho, an outstanding distributor who has often been pushed forward into an advanced role in Ligue 1, but is likely to play cautiously here and spread play to the flanks.
"Monaco’s main problem this season is a lack of goals - their top goalscorer has just six in all competitions"
The third central midfielder should be Geoffrey Kondogbia, a talented young box-to-box midfielder who springs forward into attack. but also battles back reliably. Feisty tackler Tiemoue Bakayoko is another option - Monaco might not attempt to outpass Arsenal, but their quality in the centre of the pitch shouldn’t be underestimated.
The main attacking threat will be Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, a dangerous counter-attacker who dribbles forward at speed, taking on opponents and often winning free-kicks. He should start on the left, but is very right-footed and therefore will cut inside regularly.
Monaco’s main problem this season is a lack of goals - their top goalscorer, Dimitar Berbatov, has just six in all competitions.
Arsenal are well aware of his languid style and brilliant touch, but must also be prepared for the threat of youngster Anthony Martial, who might be a superior counter-attacking option.
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