Uefa Champions League
15th February 2012
The San Siro Stadium
AC Milan v Arsenal
It’s down to the serious business of the knockout stages of the biggest prize in European club football. Gone are the qualifying and group rounds as well as the no-hopers from the north west. This is what we have all been waiting for, home and away, winner takes all. We have a great chance to knockout won of the truly great teams in European football, AC Milan.
Associazione Calcio Milan the current Italian champions were founded in 1899 by, among others, two Englishmen Herbert Kilpin and Alfred Edwards. Apart from 1980/81 and 1982/83 seasons they have always been in the top tier of Italian football, known as Serie A, since 1929.
Current owner is former Italian Prime Minister Sylvio Berlusconi.
Il Rossoneri, which is one of three nick-names the others being Il Diavolo (the Devil) and Casciavit (Screwdrivers), is a reference to the famous red an black stripes of the home shirt.
Milan play their home matches at the magnificent 80,000 seater San Siro Stadium which they share with their bitter rivals Internazionale Milano.
Il Rossoneri have an enviable record in domestic terms, having won the league title on a amazing 18 occasions as well as being runners-up 16 times.
Their European record is no less formidable having been champions 7 times (runners-up 4 times). Uefa cup winners cup winners twice (runners-up once), Uefa Super Cup winners 5 times (runners-up twice), as well as the Intercontinental Cup winners 3 times (runners-up 4 times) and the FIFA Club World Cup winners once.
So, AC Milan have an illustrious past but, as Henry Ford famously said, “History is bunk”.
Henry Ford 1863/1947
Saturday’s fine away win at Sunderland came at the cost of a nasty looking ankle injury for Per Mertesacker so it looks like there will be yet another reshuffle in the back-four. The fact that Kieran Gibbs was on the bench could mean that he will return at left-back allowing Vermaelen to partner Koscielny at centre-back with Sagna continuing in his rightful right-back position.
The mid-field could be unchanged although, a refreshed Ramsey would present more of a defensive option than the otherwise impressive Rosicky. Song and Arteta should feature unless tiredness is becoming a factor when Coquelin could play alongside the Spaniard.
Thierry Henry will be available for the last time in his present loan spell, will Arsene start him? Arshavin looked as though he had lost a few pounds and provided the cross for Henry’s winner against Sunderland, either of these two could start in place of Oxlade-Chamberlain who may find the atmosphere a bit daunting but I think it more likely that we will have an unchanged front three.
Walcott, van Persie and Oxlade-Chamberlain, why not!
This is going to be no easy match, AC Milan are a formidable team at any venue but in front of an 80,000 sell out crowd in the San Siro they are intimidating as well.
The fanatical home support could work in our favour, urged on by the crowd they may be just a bit gung ho and so leave a few gaps and present us with a scoring chance or two.
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Arteta Song Ramsey
Walcott van Persie Oxlade-Chamberlain
A tough game but winnable!
C’mon The Gunners