The Gunners who in recent times have had to endure one of their poorest forms, losing at home to Ostersunds, back to back humiliating defeats against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final and Premier League respectively, and a nightmare defeat against Brighton was enough to bring about division amongst Arsenal faithful – calling for the resignation of legendary manager Arsene Wenger.
The Gunners travelled to Italy for their Europa League Round Of 16 first-leg tie against AC Milan, as they sought to put the results of their previous behind and turn on a new leave. Wenger who has come under scrutiny for his team’s woeful performances would be delighted with his team’s output in Milan.
The Arsenal manager made changes to his side beaten by Brighton on Sunday, fielding David Ospina, Calum Chambers, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Sead Kolasinac, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as the Arsenal Wenger left San Siro with two away goals back to London.
The performance against Italian giants Ac Milan was perhaps the Gunners best performance in the last month, as they showed character and played like a team with purpose. Although many people wrote the Gunners off when the draw for the Round of 16 was out, unfortunately for the host, the Gunners last night ended their 13 games unbeaten run in all competition.
Milan came close to taking the lead in the second minute but were just an inch away from celebrations. Suso delivered a nice cross into the Gunner penalty box that almost found the back of the net, with Bonaventura lurking, he couldn’t provide the final touch to poke the ball into net, stretching at full length.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan came testing Donnarumma shortly after, but his effort would only find the side net of the young Italians post. Mkhitaryan who was on top of his game in this match took a fierce shot but was unlucky to miss the corner of the post.
In the 15th minute, the Armenian international found the answer to what he looked for, as his shot deflected off Milan’s captain Bonucci and into Donnarumma’s post that left him (Donnarumma) falling like a log of wood. Ozil with the assist found Mkhitaryan, who was able to cut into his right before pulling the trigger to give the Gunners the lead and a crucial away goal.
Milan found it hard imposing threats at the Gunners and the away side capitalised on their gullibility. Calum Chambers had a good game for the Gunners and had a decent effort at goal, striking the ball fiercely just at the edge of Milan’s penalty area – forcing the opposition goalie to make a full stretch save.
Danny Welbeck found Mkhitaryan with a delightful pass that broke the defence of Milan but was unfortunate not to grab his second of the night, with his effort beaten Donnarumma but clipped off the crossbar.
The Gunners would eventually, and deservedly, add to their lead just before half-time to put themselves in the driving seat of this tie. Ozil yet again with the assist played a through ball to Ramsey who was unmarked – with Ramsey showing superb composure to control Ozil’s slide-rule pass and rounded Donnarumma to tuck home the ball, creating a cheerful atmosphere for the away fans that has been missing for some time.
Never really looked like threatening the Gunners, though they had attempted shots but were off target as their players kept blazing their shots well off the post of David Ospina.
Kolasinac was replaced by Maitland-Niles due to a little knock on the Bosnian, and the young Englishman was more than able to announce himself on Italian soil.