Europa League: AC Milan vs Arsenal – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Two of the competition’s favourites clash in the Europa League Round of 16 as a reborn AC Milan host lacklustre Gunners.
18:00 GMT, Thursday 8th March, San Siro (Milan, Italy), BT Sport
On Thursday, the Europa League throws up a tough draw for both sides with one of the competition’s favourites certain to be eliminated in what is to be the most hotly-anticipated fixture of the Round of 16.
Since the arrival of Gennaro Gattuso, the Rossoneri have entered something of a purple patch: winning five of their last six home matches in European competitions and going 13 unbeaten in their most recent fixtures.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are experiencing quite the opposite run of form, having lost six of their last eight matches including their last Europa League fixture against Ostersunds FK and the League Cup final against Manchester City. This is their worst run of form since 2002 when they lost four games in a row under Arsene Wenger (Everton, Auxerre, Blackburn and Dortmund).
As much as everyone is talking about Arsenal’s poor form, they say that anything can happen in competition play. Given that this may be their only means of making it to the UEFA Champions League next season, Arsene Wenger will be hoping there is a grain of truth to this maxim.
Last Time Out
Lazio 0-0 AC Milan [AC Milan win 5-4 on penalties] (Coppa Italia)
With Serie A temporarily postponed to honour the tragic loss of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, the Milan-Derby was postponed.
The week earlier Milan’s managed an impressive Coppa Italia semifinal victory away at Lazio. With the game ending goalless after two legs, a penalty shootout determined the eventual winners.
Keepers Antonio Donnarumma and Thomas Strakosha were impressive, with three of the first four kicks of the shootout saved. Alessio Romagnoli scored the decisive kick right after Luis Felipe had lofted his attempt over the bar.
AC Milan are now set to face Juventus in the final in May.
Brighton 2-1 Arsenal (Premier League)
Things could hardly have been worse for the Gunners when they found themselves two goals down in the first 30 minutes away at Brighton thanks to goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did pull one goal back late in the first half but it proved to be little more than a consolation in the end and did not stave off the chants of “Wenger out!” from ringing around the away end.
The result means that Arsenal have now lost seven times in 2018 and lost to a newly promoted side for the first time in 34 games (W29, D5).
AC Milan Lineup
After a week off from Serie A action, Gennaro Gattuso will have a fully rested squad to pick from.
The only absentee will be Andrea Conti who is not yet fully fit after a lengthy injury lay off.
With record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ineligible for the Gunners, Danny Welbeck is likely to spearhead the attack.
Arsenal also have a series of key injuries concerns with Alexandre Lacazette and long-time absentee Santi Cazorla. Nacho Monreal is also a major doubt for the clash.
Key Battle: Patrick Cutrone (AC Milan) vs Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Arsenal)
Patrick Cutrone has been a revelation for Milan since breaking into the first team this season.
Despite the signings of Andre Silva and Nikola Kalinic in the summer, the youngster has been Gennaro Gattuso’s first choice for most of the games.
He has repaid the faith shown to him by his manager, scoring six goals and picking up two assists in Serie A so far with 14 goals in all competitions.
For Arsenal, Aaron Ramsey has scored seven goals and assisted six this season, including a hat-trick against Everton which drew reports of a new contract for him.
The Welshman does have a tendency to go missing during games but if he puts on one of those performances similar to Everton, he’ll certainly impact he game positively for Arsenal.
- These clubs have met twice in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 before. On those occasions, Arsenal won in 2007/08 (0-0 home, 2-0 away) and Milan reversed their fortunes in 2011/12 (4-0 home, 0-3 away). Arsène Wenger was in charge of the Gunners for both ties
- The Italian club have succumbed to just one defeat in their last 20 UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League matches at the San Siro (W16 D3) and have won five and drawn one of their six home fixtures in this season’s competition.
- Arsenal have won five of their last six away fixtures in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League, with the only blemish being a 1-0 defeat at Köln in the group stages.
Prediction: AC Milan 2-0 Arsenal
AC Milan are unbeaten in their last 13 matches and haven’t conceded in their last six games which includes fixtures against both Roma and Lazio away.
On the other hand, Arsenal are in a bad run of form with five defeats from their last six games in all competitions losing 3-0 to Manchester City on two occasions during that run.