AC Milan

Arsenal face a tough test on Tuesday night as they attempt to overturn a 4-goal deficit from the away leg against an AC Milan team in fine form in Italy and Europe.

The Dark Night and Other Nights

Arsenal capitulated three weeks ago at the San Siro, losing 4-0 to goals from Kevin-Prince Boateng, Zatlan Ibrahimovic and a brace from Brazilian star Robinho. Arsenal were outclassed in all positions and never quite seemed like they knew what was going on.

Despite this emphatic result, Arsenal have enjoyed success against Milan. They knocked them out at this stage in 2008, when Milan had won the trophy the year before, though it should be noted they only managed a 0-0 draw at the Emirates and were unable to pull off the traditional San Siro magic this time around.

Arsenal will be keen to try and keep the near-perfect record that English teams hold against Italian teams in European ties, though both the Gunners and London rivals Chelsea come into their home legs with not-inconsiderable margins to beat.

Arsenal Team News

Arsenal have no fresh injury concerns apart from the concussion of Mikel Arteta at Liverpool on Saturday, who appears to have recovered but may be kept off the team as a precaution. Andre Santos remains out, though he is expected to return soon, and Abou Diaby has not got over his hamstring injury. Aaron Ramsey is also out.

Milan are very close to full strength as well, with Alexandre Pato injured. They will likely not miss him with Ibrahimovic and Robinho upfront, and indeed the Brazilian goalscorer only featured briefly in the first-leg mauling.

AC Milan Team News

AC Milan are expected to play a similar team to the first leg, though they will face a different challenge on the high-quality pitch of the Emirates. The San Siro’s well worn pitch was only relayed a day before the first leg, and was left unchanged on the wings. This suited Milan’s central style of play well and ruined Arsenal’s wing play. Arsenal will have no such handicap this time, and no excuses.

Arsene Wenger faces a difficult choice ahead of Tuesday night: Either play a full team and risk injury to attempt the impossible, or bow out quietly with a weaker team, accepting that fourth place is a more important goal than Champion’s League progress. As such Van Persie may be rested and fringe players such as Park and Chamakh could be given a run-out along with the likes of Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Yossi Benayoun, who has admittedly enjoyed a short first-team run with the injury of Aaron Ramsey.

Key Players

Arsenal will doubtless look to talismanic captain Robin Van Persie to score several, and will need Theo Walcott and Bacary Sagna, his two service men of choice, to be on top form. Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen struggled in Milan and will need to be alert to avoid the threat of a deadly away goal.

AC Milan will simply look to bring a similar performance to London, with Boateng and Ibrahimovic likely to be the largest threat to Arsenal’s brittle back line.

Possible Line-Ups

Arsenal: Szcezny, Gibbs, Vermaelen/Djorou, Koscielny, Sagna, Song, Rosicky, Benayoun, Arteta/Chamberlain, Walcott, Van Persie/Chamakh.

Milan: Abbiati, Abate, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Antonini, Van Bommel, Seedorf, Nocerino, Prince-Boateng, Ibrahimovic, Robinho.


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#1 syedsfdn 2012-03-06 00:50
Boateng isn't available due to injuries