How Monaco can combat Arsenal in Champions League clash

AS Monaco FC Bus

Monaco have struggled to score goals this season, but the defence will be crucial if they want to frustrate the London club.

Arsenal fans were happy when Monaco were drawn out of the hat for the last 16 of the Champions League. When it could have been either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, it's easy to agree, but it doesn't mean the Ligue 1 side can be underestimated.

Leonardo Jardim's side are up to fourth in Ligue 1 and they have done that by following the blueprint that brought them success in the Champions League.

In all six games, Monaco only conceded once as they topped a group featuring Benfica, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Bayer Leverkusen. The Monegasque were far from favourites to even escape in third, but shocked everyone with their tight defensive line.

Monaco were happy to sit back and defend deep, looking to hit their opponents on the break or from set-pieces. It couldn't have worked any better. With Monaco not expected to take the game to the other sides, it played right into their hands.

This is why a draw against Arsenal suits Monaco perfectly. If the side from the Cote d'Azur had been favourites, they would have to come out of their shell, but against Arsenal they will be happy to sit and defend in numbers.

They have taken this tactic into the league and it has worked wonders. Defensive stability and midfield organisation meant they went eight games without conceding a goal, winning six of those ties to catapult them up the table.

With experience through the spine of the team and youthful exuberance surrounding the wise heads, Monaco has bought into Jardim's philosophy. The only problem has been scoring goals at the other end.

Dimitar Berbatov is Monaco's top scorer this season with six, winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco has four, and Bernardo Silva is the only other player who has scored more than twice.

A lack of goals means Monaco would be delighted with a goalless draw, or maybe conceding just one. That will be Monaco's game plan and they will try to achieve it with organisation and discipline.

Arsenal will have to work hard to break them down. Without 100% commitment from Wenger's team, the North Londoners may have to go to the south of France looking for a victory.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch