AC Milan vs Arsenal Preview -Champions League Round of 16 – Wedneday February 15th 2012
AC Milan will welcome Arsenal to the San Siro stadium on Feb. 15 when they host them in the first leg of their Champions League showdown. Arsenal knocked the Italian team out of the competition at the same stage in 2008 by an aggregate score of 2-0. Milan will need to tighten up defensively though since they allowed eight goals during the group stage. But Arsenal was poor offensively, by scoring just seven times in their group matches. AC Milan is leading the Italian Serie A this year while Arsenal is currently in fourth place in the English Premier League.
This will be striker Thierry Henry’s last appearance for Arsenal before heading back to America to get ready for the MLS season with the New York Red Bulls. He has been a pleasant surprise for Arsenal while spending about five weeks on loan for them. He scored the winner in his first match, a 1-0 FA Cup victory home over Leeds and the winner in a 2-1 win at Sunderland last Saturday. He also added a goal at home in a 7-1 drubbing of Blackburn in between. He’s the club’s all-time leading scorer with 229 goals.
Of course, nobody knows if manager Arsene Wenger has the sense to pair Henry up front with Robin Van Persie to form a dangerous duo. Van Persie leads the English club with 22 league goals and is one of the hottest strikers in the world right now. Milan wants to make sure they don’t blow their home game in this leg as it will make things awfully difficult back in London.
That means the Italian club is going to have to turn their fortunes around drastically though. Their recent record against teams from England is quite bad, especially at home. They’ve lost three straight home matches against English opposition and haven’t won in seven overall against them. However, they’ve only lost once in 11 league games this season. Milan has been knocked out in the group-of-16 stage by English teams for the past three years. These were Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal.
Manager Massimiliano Allegri said his team has to learn from its past mistakes and make sure the players don’t go into the game with some sort of mental block because they’re playing an English club. He said they must remember it’s basically a 180-minute game not a 90-minute one. He said they made too many mistakes against Tottenham last season and were punished for it by the English side’s excellent counter attacks. He added that the best way to start the tie is to make sure they don’t give up a goal at home.
Arsenal will be without the services of Jack Wilshere while forward Gervinho has just returned from the Africa Cup of Nations. Abou Diaby and Andre Santos are likely to miss the game as well as Per Mertesacker. Milan will probably be missing Alexandre Pato and Alessandro Nesta, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mark van Bommel should be in the squad after sitting out suspensions.
Milan v Arsenal Predictions
There could be a few goals in this game, but it’s going to be hard for AC Milan to win it. Look for a draw or a one-goal Arsenal victory.
Sportsbook PaddyPower has the odds of an AC Milan win at 11/10 with an Arsenal victory at 11/4 and a draw at 21/10. Get free bets on this game by clicking the banner on the right.