The Gunners continued their fine impressive run in the Europa League, as they humbled European giants Ac Milan in both legs of their Round of 16 ties. Milan thought they’d stroll through the round of 16, following Arsenal’s recent demise, but will be largely disappointed as they were disappointing in both legs of this encounter.
Wenger made changes to his team that won in Italy but still experimented with the same system which in my own opinion brings out the best in his players, particularly Granit Xhaka in the three-man midfield. David Ospina, Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Danny Welbeck.
Prior to the second leg at the Emirates, Welbeck and Wilshere were recalled to the England squad and both men were excellent for the Gunners in this tie. Welbeck scored twice for the Gunners, with the first being a controversial penalty and the second that was a simple header; whilst Wilshere bossed the midfield alongside his compatriots and was heavily involved in Arsenal’s third goal.
The away side drew the first blood of the second leg, courtesy of a wonderful goal by Hakan Calhanoglu’s long-range strike that well beat David Ospina. The Colombian wasn’t properly positioned as the Turkish international struck his effort with such venom to give the away side some glimmer of hope in this tie.
It only took four minutes for things to turn around for the visiting side, following a dive by Danny Welbeck in the opposition penalty box, which the referee awarded a penalty for. It caused so much stir up amongst the Milan player that caused the referee to dish out three yellow cards in a short time.
Welbeck stepped up and took the penalty that brought the scoreline to its default, restoring the Gunners two goals margin – sending Donnarumma the wrong way.
Jack Wilshere forced a good save from the young Italian keeper Donnarumma, who had to stretch at full length to stop the England international a goal. Donnarumma who is still only 19 years of age stopped Wilshere’s 25 yards strike, and I’m a fan of the young keeper.
Granit Xhaka who I’ve heavily criticized all season for his play and his stat padding sideways pass got the Gunners second of the night. Xhaka in the 71st minute tested Donnarumma from way out, with the young keeper not properly tiding up his save – as the ball crept into the other side of the post that signalled game over for the away side.
The Gunners weren’t done inflicting damage to the visitors as they scored the third goal in the closing stage of the match. Elneny, another player that’s been in fine form lately initiated the attack with a through pass to Welbeck, who then fed the ball to Wilshere – as the English midfielder drove the ball forward and sent a cross to Ramsey whose header was saved by Donnarumma but Welbeck was positioned well to head in the rebound.
The Gunners now await the draw for the quarterfinals, as I look forward to anyone else asides Atletico Madrid or Marseille, but nonetheless, the Gunners look fired up in this competition as they chase a spot in next season’s Champions League competition.