Sports Betting Weekly

Arsenal v Monaco

When: Thursday, 26 February 2015 @ 01:45 (FINISHED)
Where: Emirates Stadium
If Manchester City’s Tuesday night clash with Barcelona pits two of European football’s great entertainers against one another, Wednesday’s game will see this season’s spoilers-in-chief travel to the Emirates Stadium as Leanardo Jardim’s resilient Monaco side take on Arsenal in the round of 16.

Having so often been paired with a footballing giant like Barcelona or Bayern Munich in the knockout stages in recent campaigns, Arsenal were fortunate to avoid a similar fate this year as they again finished second in their group behind Borussia Dortmund only to be paired with a Monaco side who are playing in their first Champions League campaign since the 2004/2005 season.

That being said, the group stage proved that the French side are no pushovers, with Jardim’s men topping Group C at a canter by winning three, drawing two and conceding just a solitary strike in over nine hours of football. With the Ligue 1 side likely to again emphasise a solid defence over marauding football in the first leg of the tie, the challenge for Arsenal will therefore be to try and find a way to break down Monaco without leaving themselves vulnerable on the counter-attack.

The bookies certainly seem to think that the Gunners have enough attacking options to achieve such a feat, with Arsenal priced as short as 4/7 to win on the night, a draw available at 3/1 and a Monaco victory some way out at 13/2. While such big odds on an away win are certainly tempting, it looks unlikely that Monaco will be overly ambitious on the night and they will probably be more than happy to go back to the Stade Louis II with a clean sheet and a 0-0 draw, which is available at 10/1.

Indeed, when you look further into the numbers behind Monaco’s domestic season, making much of a case for the French side in an attacking sense is pretty difficult. Despite sitting 5th in the table, the 2013/2014 Ligue 1 runners-up are the fourth-lowest scorers in the division with a miserly 25 goals for – and though they have only conceded 19, when Monaco fall behind in a match, they tend to stay there.

As such, the classic 1-0 to the Arsenal is currently the bookmakers’ favoured scoreline for the game at 11/2, with 2-0 not far off at 6/1 and the home side to win without conceding available at 5/4. While Monaco look unlikely to score in the game (Arsenal are odds-on to keep a clean sheet at 10/11 while “both teams to score – no” is 8/11), their defensive record would suggest they won’t concede more than two either, meaning a home win and under 2.5 goals offers solid value at 12/5.

While we wouldn’t normally advocate the dreaded scorecast, given you can narrow the likely scoreline down to 1-0 or 2-0 if the Gunners do manage to win the first leg, coupling either result with Alexis Sanchez or Olivier Giroud as first goalscorer (both 12/1 with a 1-0 scoreline or 14/1 with 2-0) could prove a simple way to boost your odds, while Danny Welbeck – who scored a hat-trick in the group stage against Galatasaray – is also available at the same odds should he get the nod to start.