Arsene Wenger has concerns over old foe in Monaco pitch: news round-up

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has conceded he's got serious reservations over Monaco's pitch ahead of tonight's Champions League second-leg showdown, a playing surface he's all to familiar with for all the wrong reasons.

Wenger is acutely aware that the Stade Louis II is ill-equipped to cope with heavy rain, thanks to seven years of managing Monaco at the start of his coaching career.

Monaco had a match against Montpellier postponed last month thanks to a downpour in the South of France, with Wenger admitting he's praying there's no sign of a repeat performance as his side attempt to make history in the last 16 decider.

Pray for sun

In his pre-match press conference in the Cote d'Azur last night Wenger told The Mirror: "It is a little bit of a worry. There were two concerns when I was the manager. The quality of the pitch was not fantastic. I have just been up there - it is good, very good.

"The second thing is when it rains in the south of France, it rains. It doesn't drizzle. They had to postpone a game against Montpellier recently because of the rain. I hope the conditions will not be bad on the raining front."

Weather forecast isn't too promising

One look at the BBC's weather forecast for Monaco on Tuesday perhaps shows why Wenger has concerns, with rain forecast that will put a questionable surface under further strain.

Arsenal have a job do to do though regardless of the state of the pitch, as they aim to become the first side ever to overturn a two-goal deficit away from home in the Champions League knockout stages.

Gabriel travels

On the injury front it was a mixed bag from Wenger at a lively presser, with Gabriel Paulista fit after recovering from a hamstring injury but Tomas Rosicky out thanks to a sickness bug.

Wenger confirmed Gabriel is able to play if required, but he'll surely be on the bench given that his return to the first-team squad is already ahead of schedule.

Mertesacker speaks out

Alongside Wenger for the press conference was vice-captain Per Mertesacker, who revealed that crisis talks were held among the players after their embarrassing 3-1 defeat in the first leg last month.

Arsenal were brutally exposed on the counter that night and Mertesacker was definitely culpable, but at least admitted those flaws and insisted that open dialogue in the Gunners dressing room has helped them respond strongly.

Mertesacker's side have recorded four straight wins since that capitulation, but it remains to be seen if they can use that momentum to achieve an incredible turnaround to keep their Champions League dream alive later this evening.

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