Arsenal v Monaco: Three key battles

Dipak Patel takes a look at three key areas ahead of Arsenal's Champions League last-16 clash with Monaco

By Dipak Patel

Giroud v Subasic

Danijel Subasic has been a stalwart in goal for Monaco since he joined back in 2012 and has played a pivotal role in a defence that has conceded just 19 goals this season. The Croatian has a remarkable 18 clean sheets in all competitions so far, so Olivier Giroud will have to be at his best if he hopes to score past him. Giroud’s return from injury has been a boost for Arsenal and he has hit seven goals since his return. His record in Europe’s elite completion is disappointing though, having only managed five in 17 appearances – but the confidence that he is playing with suggests Subasic will have a difficult night in goal.

Sanchez v Fabinho

Alexis Sanchez has been in blistering form this season with 18 goals, so it will be important for Fabinho to keep him quiet. The Brazilian has had a steady season but is unlikely to have come up against anyone of the quality of Sanchez in Ligue 1, the difficulty for him will be the fact that the Chilean is comfortable with both feet. He will probably want to show him down the wing rather than let him cut inside but his dribbling ability, and low sense of gravity allows him to manoeuvre within a limited space. But Fabinho is also useful going forward and scored a goal in Monaco’s 2-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg earlier in the season so Sanchez will have make sure he is diligent in his defensive duties, and helps out Nacho Monreal at full-back.

Cazorla v Moutinho

Joao Moutinho hasn’t been at his best this season in an underperforming Monaco side but he is blessed with remarkable vision, and the ability to be able to run a game from a deep position. Santi Cazorla has adopted the deep-lying role for the first time in his Arsenal career but appears to be revelling in that position. His performances in the Premier League have been the catalyst for Arsenal’s good form but whether he can translate that into Europe will determine whether they can go far in the competition. Both players are the heartbeat of their teams so if one gains superiority over the other, the game is likely to swing in their favour.

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