The Gunners and the English phantom

by Lorenzo Bettoni

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Since 2008 AC Milan are facing an English team in the second round of Uefa Champions League, (Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham) they have never managed to pass to the quarter finals of the most important European torunament for clubs.

Beating Arsene Wenger’s team won’t be easy as the Gunners have improved since the 8-2 humiliation at Old Trafford, in one of the most embarassing matches of  Wenger’s era. The north-London club are now more organized and in Robin Van Persie can count on one of the most in form players in Europe.

From the phisycal point of view Arsenal should prove tough opposition for Milan. Massimiliano Allegri, in fact, has a lot of injured players , while Christian Abbiati, Alessandro Nesta, Alexandre Pato and Kevin Prince Boateng may come back after having missed last Milan appearences.

On the other hand the Gunners’ defence could suffer the speed of  Stephan El Shaarawy or Robinho (or Alexandre Pato Pato, if he will play from the first minute), more than the physical strenght of  Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who, in 2009, scored twice against Arsenal at the Emirates when he was playing for Barcelona. Defenders such as Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny or Per Mertesaker are more able to stop players like “Ibra”, the only one who’s sure to play in AC Milan’s attack.

Pato, in fact, is coming back from an injury, Robinho is not on his best form and Stephan El Shaarawy could replace them next to the Swedish forward. El Shaarawy is a new player in the European panorama but in his last appearences he has been the best players for the “Rossoneri” and he had even scored his second goal in Serie A last saturday against Udinese. He’s just 18, but for sure Arsen Wenger told his defenders to put extra care on the young Italian forward.

It’s difficult to make a prediction on who’s going to win tomorrow night. Playing at San Siro I think that AC Milan is a tiny bit favourite on the Gunners. Arsenal may play a match based on an organized defence and counterattack (as Massimiliano Allegri during the pre-match press conference). In any case we’ll have to wait untill the 6th of March, the date of return match at the Emirates, to know if  Arsenal and English football are still a phantom for AC Milan or if, eventually, the Rossoneri have become ghostbusters.



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  • dexylongshot

    I doubt Mertesaker will play tonight, especially after that nasty fall he had at the weeknd. I beleive it is ligament damage and he could be out for a few weeks at least. I reckon Wenger may give Gibbs a run out at Left back and put Vermalean back in the center to keep an eye on Zlatan, the worlds most over-rated ant-eater. My moneys on Chamberlain to have a good go at Milans defence, the boy is mustard and he shouldn’t be held back.

  • Mystical Mike

    the Mertesaker injury is a blessing, TV5 and Kos are our first choice centre backs. The big German has found it difficult to adjust and is constantly out of position, not to mention too slow. He has made so many errors this season. We should have signed Cahill for 10m in the summer.

    We have a 100% record there, so hopefully it will continue. Lets hope the Ox roasts their full backs


  • Lorenzo

    Tv5 is one of the best centre back of the premier league but i think that in general gunners’ defenders are more prepeared to stop ibra rather than the others….however tonight robinho should play dor the first minute…that’s a good news for wenger.

  • Lorenzo

    the bad news for wenger is not robinho but gunner’s defense. The worst of the last 15 years.

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