By ADAM TROXTELL
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gets a blast from the past in his team’s UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg against Monaco.
Wenger managed Monaco between 1987 and 1994, before he achieved any success with the Gunners. When the two teams meet in London (Fox Sports 1, 2:45 p.m.), he’ll be the only one with familiar feelings.
Monaco, currently fourth in Ligue 1, has never played Arsenal in a competitive match. The French league side is trying to advance in the knock-out stages of the Champions League for the first time since 2004.
Arsenal has been at this stage of the competition for the last 15 seasons, but the Gunners have failed to advance into the quarterfinals since 2010. They’ll have to do it this time without the injured Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mathieu Debuchy.
Monaco will be led by former Manchester United and Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov, who leads the team with 16 goals. They haven’t helped on the road in Europe, however, since Monaco is yet to win on the road in this season’s competition.
After losing the Champions League final last May, Atletico Madrid has been on a mission. They take a nine-game unbeaten streak in Europe with them to face Bayer Leverkusen in a round of 16 first leg (Fox Sports 2, 2:45 p.m.)
The German side does not have such a successful recent history in the competition, since Leverkusen has lost its last seven knockout stage games. Central defender Omer Toprak will not be around to help his team break that streak since he is suspended for a red card he picked up against Benfica in the last group match.
Koke, and possibly Tiago, will be out for Atletico through injury. Striker Mario Mandzukic is expected to start in an Atletico attack that has scored the most headed goals in the Champions League this season alongside Anderlecht with four.