Arsenal vs Monaco team news: Danny Welbeck and Kieran Gibbs start for Arsenal as Dimitar Berbatov leads Monaco attack

Gibbs and Nacho Monreal come into the Arsenal starting line-up as MOnaco make three changes

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The Independent Football

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has made two changes to the side that beat Crystal Palace 2-1 as he recalls defenders Hector Bellerin and Kieran Gibbs for the Champions League last-16 first leg against Monaco.

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Gibbs returns to the line-up having seen Nacho Monreal given a prolonged run in the first team, but the Spaniard drops to the bench as Wenger decides to give the English defender another run out. Chambers also drops to the bench, with the pacey Bellerin returning to right-back.

There is also a return to the bench for fit-again midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has been absent since mid-December after suffering a groin injury in the 4-1 win over Newcastle. He joins Theo Walcott and January signing Gabriel Paulista among the substitutes.

 

The Gunners have never faced the French side in a competitive encounter, although Monaco did beat the Premier League club 1-0 in a pre-season friendly at the Emirates Cup where Radamel Falcao headed in the winner.

With Falcao now at Manchester United on a season-long loan, it’s up to former Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov to trouble his old rivals.

The Bulgarian talked up the beautiful football that Arsenal play during the week, but he leads a side that is missing a number of key players through injury.

Left-back Layvin Kurzawa, winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and midfielder Bernardo Silva have all failed late fitness tests, meaning that manager Leonardo Jardim has had to make three changes to the side that beat Nice 1-0 at the weekend.

In come defenders Elderson and Almamy Toure with Nabil Dirar starting in midfield, and the Gunners will be wary of the talents of 34-year-old Berbatov as well as Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho. Kurzawa, Ferreira Carrasco and Silva are all named on the bench, but have serious doubts about there fitness should they be needed.

Line-ups:

Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Coquelin, Cazorla; Ozil, Sanchez, Welbeck; Giroud.

Subs: Szczesny, Gabriel, Monreal, Chambers, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott

Monaco: Subasic, Elderson, Wallace, Abdennour, Touré, Fabinho, Moutinho, Kondogbia, Dirar, Martial, Berbatov.

Subs: Stekelenburg, Kurzawa, Diallo, Matheus, Silva, Traoré, Ferreira Carrasco

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