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Arsenal vs. Monaco: Match Preview

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The Champions League returns to North London.

that is a jaunty scarf
that is a jaunty scarf
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Arsenal vs. AS Monaco
UEFA Champions League
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Emirates Arsenal Stadium, London (thanks, UEFA branding rules!)
11.45 AM PT/2.45 PM ET/7.45 PM BT
US TV: Fox Sports 1/Fox Soccer2Go | Worldwide TV listings: livesoccer.tv

So here we are, in the last 16 of the Champions League again. Fortunately, this year's opponent isn't a Bayern or a Barca, it's AS Monaco - that said, no easy games, etc and so on. Arsenal will still have their hands full trying to get past a Monaco team that doesn't score a whole lot, at least in the Champions League, where they scored four goals in six group stage games this season (as compared to Arsenal's 14), but that defends very well, only allowing one goal in those six matches.

A couple big parts of that defense, defender Ricardo Carvalho and DM Tiemoue Bakayoko, are out with various injuries, and another defender, LB Layvin Kurzawa, is a doubt, but this still is a solid defensive unit that will look to clog up the middle and stop Arsenal from playing their game, much like (and I don't mean this as an insult) a lower league team when they come to the Emirates for a point.  Monaco look to Dimitar Berbatov for their scoring, so you can see why defending is so important to them.

Arsenal, meanwhile, aren't that different from the weekend - Jack Wilshere will in all likelihood be saved for the weekend, and otherwise the team came through last weekend's exertions pretty much unscathed.

This game has "dour defensive draw" written all over it - Arsenal won't want to concede an away goal, and Monaco doesn't concede goals. Expecting fireworks? You'll probably be disappointed. I think Arsenal can win it, narrowly, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it ended 0-0.

BONUS TRACK:
In doing some research on TV listing info, I discovered there is a team in Bolivia called The Strongest. I think this is my new favorite team. I mean, how can you argue with...

The Strongest were originally known as "The Strong Football Club", before later becoming "The Strongest Football Club".

...and this:

It is the only football team in the world to have a battle named after it. In the Chaco War (1932-1935) the players, staff and members of the club enlisted in the Bolivian Army to defend the country against the Paraguayan attack. A division largely composed of these "stronguistas" played a vital part in the Bolivian Army's most important victory. As a result of that, the battle is named "Batalla de Cañada Strongest" in Bolivian history books.

That, friends, is spectacular.