Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger is confident that good performances at the Emirates Stadium until the end of the season will ensure a place in the Champions League for next season. Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal that taking Monaco lightly in the first leg of the round of 16 tie of the Champions League can prove fatal to their chances of progressing in the competition.

The Gunners have had to contend with very tough opponents over the past four years, when they failed to move beyond this stage, where they faced Barcelona, AC Milan and Bayern Munich for two consecutive years.

The Gunners failed to take the initiative over the two legs and the run was a serious impediment to their credentials in Europe's biggest club competition.

Arsenal failed to top the group yet again this season, finishing second to Borussia Dortmund in the group stages but were handed the better draw as the German club are set to face the Italian Champions Juventus.

It will be a homecoming of sorts for Wenger, who managed Monaco before making his way to Japan, en route to Arsenal in 1996. As a result, the Frenchman is not willing to take any risks and has urged the north London club to not lose their focus, given Monaco's brilliant defensive record in the group stages and in Ligue One.

"The last 16 in recent years has been super tough. 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," Wenger told Arsenal's website.

"Of course it will be tricky but a possible tie. It's really a 50:50 because Monaco are in a similar position to us. They came back into a good position in the league and their confidence level will be high.

"[The emotional ties to the draw] have not been hard. What was important for me was to win [against Crystal Palace] because we fought like mad to come back in a strong position in the league, and not to win would have been disastrous.

"The spirit is there and we want to keep that as a very strong basis. The team has come up a level and we'll see that with the results," he added.