A different kind of apathy surrounds Arsenal’s Europa League second leg on Thursday.
The Gunners have a 2-0 lead from the first game at San Siro and will be confident of progressing at the expense of Rino Gattuso’s Milan. Success, rather than abject failure, is expected by an uncaring support.
The previous round, however, should be instructive for Arsene Wenger. FK Ostersunds pushed his side all the way at the Emirates Stadium last time out, bossing the game 2-1 with a squad far inferior to the one boasted by the Rossoneri.
The Milanese side are dangerous all over the pitch and, if Arsenal are to gain passage to the next round, they’ll need to make plans for the following four players.
The Spaniard was disappointing in the first leg, struggling to impress in the face of Sead Kolasinac’s militant forays on the left wing.
Whenever he did get a chance, his delivery was strangely lacking whilst his trademark jaunts infield were met with little end product.
Suso, however, remains his side’s most talented and dangerous forward. He has proven several times this season already that, if given the chance, he can punish opponents from 18 yards with his accurate finishing.
The former Liverpool player has managed to find the net six times in Serie A so far this season, picking up eight assists at the same time. With such levels of creativity, Arsenal would do well to keep him at the forefront of their minds on Thursday.
2 Franck Kessié
Kessié was one of the best midfielders in Italy last season, a voracious patroller whose energy and enthusiasm was key in Atalanta’s qualification for the Europa League.
His signing was a major coup for Milan’s new-look regime under Li Yonghong. The Ivorian, however, has rarely looked like replicating that promise this year.
Kessié was untidy in possession at the San Siro, unmoored and profligate alongside the disappointing Lucas Biglia. If he remembers how big a talent he actually is, though, he can destroy Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny in midfield.
3 Ricardo Rodríguez
Part-Spanish, part-Chilean and all hunk, the former Wolfsburg man is a robust presence on the left of Milan’s defence.
The 25-year-old might lack the fizzing pace usually demanded in a modern wing-back, but his technique is assured and he is defensively resolute. It spoke volumes that, whilst Davide Calabria floundered on the right wing, Arsenal found the opposing flank to be an opaque and blanketed fortress.
Alongside Hakan Calhanoglu, Rodríguez will be keen to test Ainsley Maitland-Niles on Thursday, particularly after the Englishman conceded a needless penalty against Watford on Saturday.
4 André Silva
After eight months of near-misses and several cameos from the bench, André Silva scored his first Serie A goal at the weekend. His finish in the 94th minute was enough to secure a vital victory away to Genoa, a win that maintains Gattuso’s impressive domestic record since the turn of the year.
For the player himself, it was a defining moment. Silva was much-hyped upon his arrival from Porto in the summer and his impressive record at international level (11 caps in 18 Portugal games) suggests he is far from a busted flush.
He needs starts though and goals. Buoyed by his last-minute header at the Luigi Ferraris, the Portuguese could wreak havoc against a side likely to include the deputising Calum Chambers.
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