Arsenal boss Wenger heaps praise on Dimitiar Berbatov ahead of Monaco meeting

Arsene Wenger has warned that the ex-Tottenham Hotspur striker is still a force to be reckoned with ahead of their Champions League last-16 tie with the French club.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has told the Daily Mirror that his side must be cautious of Monaco striker Dimitar Berbatov ahead of tomorrow night’s Champions League last-16 clash.

Now 34, Berbatov has netted 16 goals in 40 total appearances since joining the French club from Fulham last winter, and will be tasked with leading their line in the first-leg at the Emirates Stadium.

The Bulgaria international’s powers might be waning at this point but, after seeing him score 75 times in 178 Premier League games during spells with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United between 2006 and 2012, Wenger is more than aware of the potential threat he could cause.

"Is he on the decline? I am not sure. He is a terrific striker. He is 34 and still playing at the top level and not many players can do that,” the Frenchman said.

He has been able to stay at the top because he has got such great technique. He can fall back on his technical work when he runs out of puff. He's not as fit as he was ten years ago but he makes up for that with his intelligence and his football brain."

Arsenal have fallen at the first hurdle of the knockout stages for four successive seasons but, while on a run of eight wins in nine games, are considered firm favourites to progress past Monaco going into their tie.

Berbatov’s side managed a meagre four goals in in their six group games, but a resolute defence which conceded just once allowed them to pick up a table-topping 11 points ahead of Leverkusen, Zenit St Petersburg and Benfica.

The Ligue 1 outfit, who sit fourth in the table, are on an impressive run of form which has seen them lose once in 17 matches in all competitions, but have fitness concerns over left-back Laywin Kurzawa and winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco for Wednesday night’s showdown.

Having either out would be a big blow to their chances of an upset, and would heap further pressure on the veteran Berbatov to replicate some of his past Premier League form on his return to north London.

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