English Premier League team Arsenal returns home to Emirates Stadium on March 6 to take on Italy’s AC Milan in the second leg of their round-of-16 European Champions League matchup. Milan hammered Arsenal 4-0 in the first leg at the San Siro and most fans think it’s all over. However, it’s never over until the final whistle. In a two-legged tie we’re basically had half time with another 90 minutes to go.
If Milan could score four in the first leg there’s no reason to believe it can’t be done in the second leg. It’s highly unlikely, but still a possibility especially with a high-scoring team like Arsenal. They slammed five goals past Tottenham Hotspur at home a week ago in about 60 minutes after falling behind 2-0 and storming back for a 5-2 win. They also beat Blackburn 7-1 at home a few weeks ago, and in the group stages of the Champions League in 2007/08 managed to beat Slavia Prague 7-0.
Manager Arsene Wenger feels it’s possible and there’s no reason his team can’t win the match and qualify for the quarter-finals. Wenger undoubtedly gained a lot of confidence with the win over Spurs and a 2-1 away win over Liverpool on the weekend when Robin van Persie scored his 31st goals of the season in injury time for the winner.
He’s changed his tune quite a bit over the past couple of weeks since he basically admitted that his side was out of the competition after the heavy defeat in Milan. Wenger said he doesn’t live in a fantasy land, but it’s still possible to win the game no matter what the odds are. Three teams have overturned four-goal deficits in European contests over the years and they all achieved the feat in the mid-1980s.
Milan lost big leads before
Milan knows all too well that big leads can be blown. In the 2003/04 season they beat Spanish team Deportivo La Coruna 4-1 in the home leg of the quarter-finals and then went crashing out of the Champions League after losing the second leg 4-0. As usual, Arsenal will have to depend on the fitness of several players. Midfielder Tomas Rosicky needs to pass a late fitness test due to a groin strain and Mikel Arteta will likely be out after injuring his head against Liverpool on Saturday. Jack Wilshere will be missing as will defender Per Mertesacker. Aaron Ramsey will also likely be out.
Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri will be without Alexandre Pato and Kevin-Prince Boateng, Clarence Seedorf, Mathieu Flamini and Maxi Lopez are game-time decisions, but Massimo Ambrosini is suspended.
Wenger knows his team will have to attack and leave themselves open, but he also knows van Persie is the key. If he’s well marked it’s going to be a huge uphill climb to score four goals. The Dutch striker has three Champions League goals so far while Zlatan Ibrahimovic leads Milan with five and has set up another three.
Odds and Predictions
Arsenal has won three and lost two in their last five games overall while AC Milan has four wins and a draw. They beat Palermo 4-0 away in their last match on the weekend. Arsenal’s unbeaten at home this season and while they might do enough to win this game it’s unlikely they’ll the tie. Look for an exciting game with several goals though.
William Hill (sign up through the banner up top for free bets!) has the odds of an Arsenal win at 23/20 with a Milan victory at 23/10 and a draw at 12/5.