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Wenger warns against complacency in Monaco tie

24 February 2015, 20:14

London - Arsenal are strongly fancied to beat Monaco in their Champions League last-16 tie but Gunners manager Arsene Wenger has warned fans not to expect an easy ride.

The Premier League side have been knocked out at this stage by Bayern Munich in each of the last two seasons but they could scarcely have asked for a kinder draw in the first knockout round this year after finishing second in their group behind Borussia Dortmund.

Also read: Arsenal teenager keen to represent Nigeria

Monaco won their group ahead of Bayer Leverkusen despite only scoring four goals in six games and despite downsizing last summer when Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez were both allowed to leave.

However, speaking ahead of the first leg of the tie against the Ligue 1 side at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, Wenger warned his side against complacency.

"We have been in the Champions League for 17 consecutive years and that means we would have not learned the lesson easy is a word that you have to ban in the Champions League," said Wenger, who revealed midfielder Jack Wilshere had been rested from Tuesday's training session as a precaution following his recovery after ankle surgery.

"Every time we were in there, it was hard-earned wins.

"It is always one-goal difference, you go out for one goal, you stay in for one goal and that means you have to work very hard.

"If you look at the teams who are (left) competing there is always a reason to think it is difficult, so let us just try to do the next game, go into that with belief and humility, to try to give everything we can."

Miserly defence

Arsenal head into the game in good form having won eight of their last nine matches in domestic competition, but Monaco have lost just once over 90 minutes in their last 17 games, and have conceded a miserly three goals in that time.

"Monaco is a team who made 11 points at the group stage, scored four goals and conceded one, so that means they defend very well," said Wenger, who coached Monaco earlier in his career.

"That is what they will certainly try to do tomorrow and they are also very good on the break, quick in transition, so that is what we expect from them."

Wenger was in charge at the Stade Louis II for seven years before moving on to Nagoya Grampus in Japan, but he said he will not allow himself any sense of nostalgia in facing his former employers for the first time in a competitive fixture.

"It was the start of my career and I didn't know how long I would be in the job or where I would be. It was my first chance to be in a big club, I was very young and you're always grateful for that," the French coach said.

"I am happy that Monaco are back at the top level, but I have been manager of Arsenal for 18 years and I am focused on just qualifying for the quarter-final against a good side.

"It is the first time Monaco have put a lot of investment into the team again because they were in the second division.

"Now they are in the second phase of that process which means they respect the financial fair play more and have a strategy that is more based on youth."



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