England v Italy – Champions League.

by James Prentice

Friday, December 16th, 2011
 

Fans of Arsenal and Chelsea will be hoping for a Michael Cainesque Italian Job if they are to enter the heady heights of a Champions League quarter-final.

Arsenal, who topped their group, were drawn against 7-time European Champions AC Milan, in a repeat fixture to that of the 2008 CL round of 16, where, after a 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium in the first leg, Arsenal travelled to the San Siro to silence the home crowd with a little help from a 30-yard effort from Cesc Fabregas.

Arsenal Club Secretary David Miles described the fixture as “the pick of the round.” “It’s going to be a fantastic two games, if I’m being honest, there are probably some other teams we may have preferred.” He then conceded: “It’s going to be tough.”

The Gunners will of course be wary of 6ft 5in Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The lanky goal-machine has managed an impressive 14 goals in all competitions since the start of the season. Arsenal fans will of course remember Barcelona’s trip to North London in March 2010 and Ibrahimovic’s delightful double in a match that ended 2-2.

AC Milan currently sit 3rd in Serie A, two points behind joint-leaders; Juventus and Udinese.

Arsenal travel to Milan for the first leg in February, the return fixture will take place early in March.

 

Cesc Fabregas celebrates emphatically as his wonder strike all but seals Arsenal’s 

Chelsea have been handed a first ever meeting against Napoli. The Naples’ side will prove testing opponents after booking their name in the hat at the expense of Premier League leaders and big-money spenders Manchester City.

Manager Walter Mazzarri has transformed the fortunes of Napoli since taking Roberto Donadoni’s job in October 2009. The side finished 3rd in the 2010-11 Serie A campaign, gaining automatic qualification to the Champions League group stages.

Andre Villas-Boas’ men have shown good form of late after crucial victories at home to Valencia and Manchester City.

Napoli’s recent rise in good fortune has been epitomised by the their devastating trio of; Marek Hamsik in the midfield along with an up-front partnership of Edinson Cavani and Ezequial Lavezzi. The dynamism and deadly counter-attacking ability born out of such talents proved far too much for Roberto Mancini’s men in the group stages. City failed to beat Napoli in a crucial tie in Italy in November. His side losing 2-1 to a Cavani brace, which near enough dumped the Lancastrians out of the competition.

Villas-Boas will be hoping that his sides experience of big European nights will prove the difference. His team is more than capable of advancing through to the next stage of the competition.

Speaking after the draw, club secretary David Barnard said: “We all know Andre [Villas-Boas] has had some experience of Italy at Inter, so he will know the ins and outs of Napoli I’m sure.”

 ‘Cav’ some of that! Edinson Cavani has been a revelation this season.

Written By James Prentice
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@MrPrent

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