AC Milan v Arsenal preview
Serie A champions host Gunners in crucial European clash
Last Updated: February 15, 2012 1:29pm
AC Milan and Arsenal must strike the right balance between defence and attack in the first leg of their last-16 showdown in the UEFA Champions League.
Match facts and stats::: Arsenal had the most accurate shooting in the 2011/12 Group Stage, with 66% of their attempts on target. :: Zlatan Ibrahimovic has found the net in all of his four Champions League appearances this season. He scored a brace in his only club visit to the Emirates, with Barcelona in March 2010. :: Arsenal midfielder Alex Song has made more tackles than any other player this season in the Champions League (33). :: Milan defeated Arsenal in the 1994 Super Cup, drawing 0-0 at Highbury and winning 2-0 at the San Siro.
With knockout competition now the name of the game in European football, it is imperative that the right tactical approach is taken.
While a two-legged tie cannot be settled in the space of 90 minutes, it is possible to set up a surge towards the next round or leave yourself with a mountain to climb.
The dilemma facing AC Milan heading into their first meeting with Arsenal is whether to keep things tight at the back and ensure that the contest remains evenly poised in the return leg, or look to establish a commanding lead on home soil.
For the Gunners, a trip to Italy offers the chance to snatch an all-important away goal and claim the upper hand ahead of a home date at Emirates Stadium on 6th March.
History would appear to favour the Premier League side, as they have never been eliminated by Italian opposition over the course of a two-legged tie.
Their only previous meeting with AC Milan in the Champions League saw them claim a notable Serie A scalp, with a goalless draw in London followed by a 2-0 win in Italy.
In fact, Arsenal have won both of their two Champions League games to date at the San Siro, with Inter Milan having been crushed 5-1 back in 2003.
AC Milan will also need no reminding that they have fallen to English opposition at the last-16 stage in each of their last three attempts, failing to score in five of those six fixtures.
The Rossoneri will be looking to right those wrongs this season, but they have won only four of their last 19 matches in the Champions League - with those victories coming against Auxerre (twice), Viktoria Plzen and BATE Borisov.
Arsenal will be without Per Mertesacker on Wednesday as the German centre-half suffered an ankle injury against Sunderland on Saturday.
Kieran Gibbs is fit again following a groin problem, and could slot in at left-back allowing Thomas Vermaelen to move across into his favoured role alongside Laurent Koscielny, while Switzerland international Johan Djourou is another option.
Striker Thierry Henry, who came off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner at the Stadium of Light, takes in the final fixture of his loan spell before returning to New York Red Bulls.
Gervinho has finished international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, but the Ivory Coast forward, who missed a penalty in the final shoot-out defeat to Zambia, is not due back until later this week.
Defenders Carl Jenkinson (back) and Andre Santos (ankle) are still out, along with midfielders Abou Diaby (hamstring) and Jack Wilshere (ankle).
AC Milan have also been struggling with injuries lately.
Defenders Alessandro Nesta, Mario Yepes, Brazil forward Pato, one-time Tottenham midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng and former Arsenal utility man Mathieu Flamini have all now returned to training, but are unlikely to start on Wednesday after lengthy spells out.
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||5||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|4||FC Viktoria Plzen||5||0|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||5||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||5||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H
Milan v Arsenal
Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit has told Arsene Wenger he must release under-performing stars if he is going to win silverware.
AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic added insult to Arsenal's injury by claiming his side could have scored even more against the Gunners.
Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal are not out of the Champions League yet, despite a 4-0 defeat on Wednesday.
- Vermaelen - We owe the fans
- Wenger critical of display
- Szczesny - It's not impossible
- Gunners put to the sword
- Robinho in confident mood
- Wenger wary of going backwards
- Vermaelen ready for Ibrahimovic
- Wenger raises pitch concerns
- Arsenal boss wary of Ibrahimovic
- Wenger targets strong start
- Milan out to avoid mistakes
- Wenger - Henry can help
- Seedorf unsure of Gunners
- Boateng admits mistakes
- Ramsey wants a win
- Koscielny hails comeback
- Wenger vows to attack