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Monaco's Berbatov seeks goals on London return

24 February 2015, 08:20

London - Dimitar Berbatov will be hoping for a goalscoring return against his former arch-enemies Arsenal when AS Monaco come to the red half of north London for their Champions League Round of 16 first leg match on Wednesday.

The Bulgarian is still remembered with affection for the 46 goals he scored for Arsenal's local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in a two-year spell at White Hart Lane before a 30 million pounds ($46.05 million) move to Manchester United in September 2008.

He scored twice for Fulham at the Emirates in a 3-3 draw in November 2012 and, though he turned 34 in January, the Bulgarian heads back to London as Monaco's top scorer this season.

Monaco head to Arsenal buoyed by their 1-0 derby win at Nice on Friday which sees them fourth in Ligue 1 with just one defeat in their last 17 matches in all competitions.

They also won 1-0 at the Emirates last August when Radamel Falcao, now on loan at Manchester United, scored the only goal in the pre-season Emirates Cup tournament against the hosts.

But there will be very little similarity between that warm-up summer run-out and the real business of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Also read: Eden Hazard brother dumps Chelsea for German club

Monaco's Belgian winger Yannick Carrasco is having treatment on a bruised right thigh while their France defender Layvin Kurzawa is also being treated for bruised quadriceps.

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim told Britain's Sunday Sun newspaper: "Everyone considered us a gift, a lucky draw, so the luck fell to Arsenal.

"It's normal that everyone thinks Arsenal will qualify. I too think Arsenal are favourites but in football sometimes money and the favourites don't win."


Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger, who coached Monaco between 1987 and 1994, has warned his players not to underestimate the visitors as his current team, in the last 16 for the 15th consecutive year, attempt to end a run of four successive exits at this stage.

"The last 16 in recent years has been super tough," Wenger said. "This is a 50-50 game. We know that Monaco are very tight defensively -- they didn't concede in the group stage against good teams.

"They came back into a good position in the league and their confidence level will be high" he told the club's website (www.arsenal.com).

Like Monaco, Arsenal are also on a good run of form with eight wins in their last nine games despite injuries to Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy.

They also have history on their side, having lost just twice to French teams in 20 competitive matches.

Monaco have played English sides 10 times, winning five and losing two, but this is their first competitive game against Arsenal.

- Reuters


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