Giroud: Monaco not easy for Arsenal

Olivier Giroud has rejected the suggestion that Arsenal have an easy Champions League draw after the Premier League club were paired with Ligue 1 outfit Monaco, ESPN has reported.

The Gunners qualified for the first knockout round of the competition as runners-up to Borussia Dortmund in Group D, while Monaco topped C, despite scoring only four goals in their six fixtures.

It was said in some quarters that by avoiding the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, Arsenal had an easier draw, but Giroud has told L’Equipe that isn’t the case. “I’m not relieved, no,” he said. “But it’s true that we had not been spoiled by the draw in recent seasons,” Giroud acknowledged. “Since I arrived at Arsenal, we have come up against Bayern twice in the last 16. That was a very tough draw.

“I have a friend who called me and said: ‘Oh, it’s good, a French team, you’re lucky!’ Meaning, ‘it’s going to be easy’. Well, we’ll have to see after the game,” he continued. “I think it’s 50/50. Monaco are a good team, even if they don’t have a lot of Champions League experience. They are a young team with very good players.”

The fixture pits manager Arsene Wenger against the team with whom he won the French title in 1987-88, with Giroud admitting the players are aware of the importance of the match to the boss.

“I thought about that straightaway,” said Giroud. “Of course it’ll be special for him to go back to the club where he started as a coach. But he handles those sorts of situations well. He’s calm, but it will certainly be something for him to return to Monaco, that’s for sure.”

The games are due to take place on February 25 and March 17, with the first leg to be played at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and the return at Monaco’s Stade Louis II.

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