Arsenal eye a place in the Europa League quarterfinals as they host AC Milan at the Emirates in the last-16 second leg with a 2-0 aggregate lead.
AC Milan will have a massive task at hand if they are to progress to the Quarter-finals of the Europa League after Arsenal took a commanding 2-0 lead at the San Siro in the first leg encounter. The Gunners put in an impressive display in Milan last week as they returned to London with two valuable away goals to their name.
In the first leg, Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the game’s as well as his first goal for Arsenal, and Aaron Ramsey doubled their lead before halftime. Arsenal controlled the game well to see off Gennaro Gattuso’s side at the San Siro and seemingly have one foot in the quarterfinals.
Arsenal followed up their victory in Italy with a 3-0 win over Watford in the Premier League. Arsenal’s only hope for any silverware as well as entry into next season’s Champions League depends on winning the Europa League this season, and for now, the Gunners’ are well on course into the next round.
AC Milan bounced back from the loss to Arsenal and beat Genoa in the Serie A, courtesy of Andre Silva’s injury-time winner. It was also Silva’s first Serie A goal for Milan, which came in his 17th match. Silva, however, has scored plenty of goals in cup competitions, especially the Europa League.
The big problem for AC Milan is that they face an Arsenal side at the Emirates who have lost only three games all season in all competitions, but can take hope from Ostersunds who rounded off the Gunners 2-1 here.
Team News & Tactics
Arsene Wenger will be relieved at the news of Spanish duo of Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal returning to fitness. Bellerin had a knee ligament problem and had subsequently missed games against Milan and the home tie against Watford last weekend. Monreal has been absent since limping off during the League Cup final.
Their returns coincide with Shkodran Mustafi’s injury suffered against Watford and is hence expected to be out against Milan. Laurent Koscielny, who also missed the Watford game is likely to be back in the squad and will thus boost the Gunners options at the back.
Alexandre Lacazette will again miss, as he has the past few weeks with a knee surgery he underwent in early February. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be ineligible for this tie, and hence Danny Welbeck is expected to lead Arsenal’s line.
Probable Starting-XI (4-3-3): Ospina; Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac; Ramsey, Xhaka, Wilshere; Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck
Up until the Arsenal clash at the San Siro, Milan were on a good run of games, and duly continued where they left off against Genoa at the weekend. Gennaro Gattuso is likely to make minor changes to the side from the Genoa clash.
Milan have no injury or suspension concerns ahead of the Arsenal game. However, full-back Davide Calabria is set to return after not featuring on the weekend. On an overall note, Milan will retain the same side that featured against Arsenal last week, with Patrick Cutrone set to continue in leading the line.
Probable Starting-XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Romnagoli, Bonucci, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Calhanoglu, Cutrone
- Arsenal are the first side to beat AC Milan at the San Siro in the Europa League / UEFA Cup since 2002.
- Arsenal haven’t gone past the last-16 of a European competition since 2009/10
- AC Milan have lost only once in their last six competitive games.
- Arsenal, on the other hand, have lost four in their last six.
Player To Watch
The Armenian, signed from Manchester United in the January window has been consistently showing his talents, something he could not showcase at Manchester. His home debut, in particular, sparked the Armenian to deliver with three assists against Everton.
His form, along with that of the team wained off, but he has returned with a bang. First against AC Milan last week, where he scored Arsenal’s opening goal and followed that performance with another goal and assist against Watford in the Gunners 3-0 victory.
All eyes will be on Mkhitaryan when they play Milan again, and at the Emirates, he will be highly motivated to showcase further what he is capable of on the pitch.
Arsenal 2-1 AC Milan
Arsenal’s respectable form at home this season swerves this tie in favour of the Gunners, but Ostersunds showed the other contenders, that their defence is not exactly water-tight. Milan would be encouraged with the Swedish side’s showing and are themselves more than capable of delivering a surprise.
Arsenal, on the other hand, are boosted by defensive returnees, especially the likes of Bellerin and Monreal. The only concern will be Mustafi, who was rock solid at the San Siro. So expect Milan to score at the Emirates, but Arsenal’s quality in attack will prove to be the superior bet when the two sides clash.