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Europe is back – Previewing Arsenal’s trip to Milan

By Phil Gregory

After a tight win over Sunderland, our quest for the top four received a timely boost with another poor result on Chelsea’s behalf. With the return of the Champions League however, such issues take a back seat. Previous tumultuous league campaigns for the Arsenal have resulted in good runs in the Champions League, with 2008-09 and our appearance in the 2006 final coinciding with iffy domestic performances, so perhaps this could be a good year for Arsenal in Europe.

Arsenal versus Milan brings back memories of a great win away in the San Siro before finally exiting in shall we say “controversial” circumstances against Liverpool. Since that memorable evening in Italy, much has changed however as a look at the line-up that day indicates:

Almunia, Clichy, Senderos, Gallas, Sagna, Diaby, Fabregas, Flamini, Eboue, Hleb, Adebayor

Assuming Sagna starts, we’ll only have a single player from that line-up likely to start, with all the others heading for pastures anew except Diaby.

On the injury front, the only change from the weekend is the absence of Mertesacker. While concrete news is not yet out in regards to the severity of his ankle problem, Per is apparently at a specialist today so news should be forthcoming shortly. Thankfully, his absence could be tempered by the availability of Vermaelen and Djourou for centreback duties, with the return of a couple of fullbacks recently.

Szcznesy

Sagna Djourou Koscielny Vermaelen

Song Arteta

Ramsey

Walcott Van Persie Rosicky

The line-up prediction for this week was a bit of a puzzler. The injury to Mertesacker rocks the boat given he and Koscielny have formed an impressive central defensive partnership this season. Wenger said that “the most natural option” is to switch Vermaelen to centreback, which we’d all agree is the ideal solution, getting our best defender back in his best position. That said it opens up a problem at left back which isn’t easily solved. Gibbs is available, but it seems it is not completely confirmed that he is going to start, as Wenger wasn’t explicit in that regard, as he normally is. Bar a totally outlandish option of someone like Coquelin filling in at left back, I think Wenger might be pulling a fast one, keeping the situation vague to disrupt our opponent’s preparation. This isn’t his normal modus operandi, but it seems plausible and personally I expect Vermaelen will line up at left back, with Djourou replacing Mertesacker instead. I could well be wrong, but I can’t see Gibbs, with no recent matches to shake off the rust, being thrown in at the San Siro.

The degree of gamble involved in Gibbs starting depends on his physical condition, something Arsène is best placed to judge from seeing him in training. The question in Wenger’s mind is simple: is the gain from playing Vermaelen at centreback over Djourou greater than any concern over throwing Gibbs back in, as opposed to keeping Vermaelen at left back?  Djourou’s not a bad player by any stretch of the imagination, so I think he’ll do fine if called up.

Really though, nobody has a clue what’s going to happen in regards to the defence, and no doubt Milan will be a little baffled too which is no bad thing.

The midfield was a bit of a conundrum too. Rosicky has been performing very well in the middle, and I was torn between whether to select him or the rested Ramsey in that playmaker role. When I considered our forward options however, the choice became pretty clear. Van Persie and Walcott will both start, but the left side is much more open to debate. Chamberlain has held that position in recent games, but starting him away from home in Europe is a totally different kettle of fish, and his pace off the bench could be devastating. Similarly Arshavin, even though he looked much improved against Sunderland isn’t someone I’d want on the flank in a European away game. Unless I’m much mistaken, I don’t think Gervinho will come into the equation given the ACN only finished recently. Finally, I think the same logic that applies to Arshavin applies to Henry too, with the weekend’s match winner likely to be on the bench. Rosicky on the other hand, while lacking in the attacking penetration required in a wide forward – I much prefer him in central midfield – would help our possession game, which will be crucial away. Moreover he’s pretty solid defensively and if his ability to play the ninety after starting versus Sunderland is the issue, he could make way for Chamberlain/Henry on 60mins if needed.

As to the game itself, the charge levelled against this new Milan side is that their midfield is more functional than artistic, something we should seek to take advantage pf with plenty of pressing looking to force the likes of Van Bommel and Prince-Boateng into giving the ball away. Some may expect a more workmanlike side to be able to take advantage of Arsenal’s perceived weaknesses when the rough stuff is thrown around, but with a good surface at the San Siro we’ll be able to pass it around quicker than they can chase.

As ever in the away games, there are the conflicting temptations of being cautious to avoid defeat, against the need to score the away goal. I personally doubt that, statistically, there is any evidence having the second leg at home is of benefit – arguably the away team in the second leg potentially have 120 minutes to score an away goal, but on the flipside the home side have up to 120 minutes of home advantage, so it’s swings and roundabouts.

An away goal or two would be great, that much is clear. However I’m confident we can beat anyone at the Emirates, especially with a side that has fewer (touch wood) injuries than it has earlier in the season so a win and/or lots of away goals in the first leg isn’t necessarily a requirement. With my Arsenal hat on I’m going to anticipate a 2-1 win, with us grabbing a late goal on the break to win it when AC are pushing for their own winner.

 

103 comments to Europe is back – Previewing Arsenal’s trip to Milan

  • Kashmaster

    I think we’re likely to see Gibbs start. I am in the same boat as you, I think we should keep the Ox on the bench and put him on during the 70th minute so he can have a go at their full-backs.

    I expect a 2-1 win to us as well. I expect a Walcott and Van Persie goal naturally.

  • Laundryender

    I was high in the stands in the San Siro for the last game, alas this one i am at home, but next round!!! because we are going through. I feel our pace will be to much for them, If we play at a high tempo. Wish i was there. Damn!!!!

  • Shard

    Anybody know a good place in London to watch the match? I’d like to watch it with some gooners.

  • Shard

    Even more with some Untold gooners

  • Stevie E

    Shard
    I would recommend The World’s End in finsbury park. Great gooner support and usually packed on away days, especially mid week champions league games 😉 get in early though, it gets very busy. Also dead easy to get to on the Victoria line. Have fun!

  • Gord

    I still don’t see any real news about Per Mertesacker. I’ve seen people with worse bruising come back quickly.

    The BBC is finishing up its coverage today. Of course, some of the AAA have to contribute their twits. Apparently Cesc is cursed. And because Barcelona has had to change its team a bit to allow Cesc to play, Barcelona has gotten worse. If these people like fiction so much, go write a novel or draw a comic book. Bleech!

    I looked a the suggestions above, and wondered about Park. Then I checked the team roster going to Milan, and Park didn’t make the team.

    Anyway, I hope the team does well in Milan. A win would be nice, a tie is workable.

  • ak47

    if park was a forced signing to go along with the commercial tour then does wengers contract say that he makes all footballing decisions no questions. its the only explanation i can see apart from the highly optimistic ‘the run in secret weapon idea’.

  • WalterBroeckx

    About Mertesacker the dutch news channel NOS has said that Mertesacker will be out for one month. Okay not good but could have been worse.
    Just hope the German defender is a quick heeler…

  • Gord

    @Walter

    Almost all the articles in the last 1.5 days have said one month, some say more. They are all regurgitating the same crap. I guess it is a little after midnight in Europe, Wenger was supposed to have some kind of report from Germany in the late afternoon (yesterday for you). As near as I can tell, the bruising is not consistent with a ligament sprain (only). I’ve seen players come back in 2 weeks with such bruising. And I suspect some players never come back from such bruising. I can imagine that there will be little real knowledge about this until Wenger has Mertesacker close to coming back into play. Whenever that will be.

  • Tasos

    Phil

    I wouldn’t count on that San Siro playing surface, Milan have recently re-laid a large middle section of the pitch and it looked far from even when they played and lost on it last week.

    It’s going to be tough tommorow, Milan have some big players and they’re also top if the Italian league. Personaly I’d prefer to see Gibbs at left back with TV reverting to partner Kos at centre half in order to deal with the powerful threat of Ibrahimovich.

    At this stage of the competition away goals are vital, therefore I’m hoping for a victory but I also believe a score draw will do us just fine.

  • bob

    Gord,
    Has the source/authenticity of the photo of the bruising been confirmed? Why is it trustworthy? Who would have access and want others to be able to assess it? I don’t get it, in truth.

  • bob

    Phil,
    There are press reports that Arsene says the turf has not yet settled in today, and MIGHT be Ok tomorrow. Any further thoughts on this?

  • Gord

    @bob

    In my first post in the Vermaelen thread, I come out and say at the beginning that there is no proof this is a photo of Per Mertesacker’s ankle. There is no way to prove it.

    I’ve seen some reports this picture comes from twitter, some from facebook. I would say that neither is reliable. Personally, I would expect Wenger to be annoyed if Mertesacker published a picture of his injured ankle.

    But, I looked at it as best as I could, and it is unlikely that “just ligament sprains” would explain the bruising. But as far as guessing severity by how much bruising was present, that is hopeless. Some people can get second or even third degree (rupture) sprains, and still not show significant bruising. Scans and actually working with the ankle to judge instability are needed.

    All I can hope for, is that the damage is minor and he is back soon. If that picture is of his ankle, I have seen other players (amateurs in Canada) with similar bruising come back soon (being taped for games of course).

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Phil, this is great preview. So good you have got me reconsidering my line up of Chesney, Sagna, Kos, Verm, Gibbs,
    Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, RVP, Arsharvin. I think Gibbs is a big gamble like you say, but I’ve been wondering if this is exactly the kind of game you would risk him in. I think it’s best to have a proper LB play tomorrow and so after a bit of deliberation, to me I would put Gibbs in the starting line up as this would be a reasonable calculated risk under the circumstances.

    I also think Ramsey should start this one as he more likely to score at present than Rosicky. I wouldn’t play both Rosicky and Ramsey together in this particular game and as we really are going for the all important away goals, I would actually give Arsharvin a rare start. All being well, my subs would be Henry, Alex OC, Le Coq.

    The team selection tomorrow is going to be very interesting as I would even consider taking out Ramsey and putting in Le Coq, just so that we had completely fresh legs and more defensive cover for Arsharvin in midfield. I am feeling a mixture of nervousness and excitment already about the game. Tomorrow is a massive game and it will be hard to concentrate throughout the day. I don’t underestimate AC Milan at all and the San Siro remains a big daunting stadium, but I also know that we are more than a match for them as long as we are fearless and confident.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I would prefer Coquelin to play as left back and TV 5 in the center as Djourou has not had much playing time and so too Gibbs.
    I would start with Ramsey first and if he tires or if things don’t work out Rosicky can be called upon .Both of them don’t track back well so its one or the other .
    Up front I would like AW to throw the Ox and Walcott at them with pace from both the wings and bring T.Henry for the coup de
    grace and send the faithful screaming with joy .
    Oh, and a clean sheet would really help the cause .

  • Johnny Deigh

    The thing about Per is that it didn’t look like he turned his ankle. It seemed more like it was jarred.

  • Anne

    @kashmaster:

    I’ll hold you to that prediction and we’ll see how you do after the match 🙂

  • The Milan team has a few injury problems – so it is a bit of a reverse from normal, with us scratching around for players.

    Antonio Cassano and Gennaro Gattuso are both out for the season, although not with football injuries.

    Yepes, Aquilani, Boateng, Pato, Merkel, Nesta, and Abbiati have all been injured recently. Some of those could be back and Ibrahimovic will play (remember him at Barca) with Robinho and Boateng if he is ok. (Ib. is banned for domestic games I think but not Euro).

    So not a perfect team but they are top of the league, although having played two games more than Juve.

    It will be tough (and that is about as profound as I get when still suffering from jet lag).

  • Anne

    @Gord:

    Barca didn’t need to sign Cesc, and their team actually has gotten worse as a result. Not because of any lack of quality on Cesc’s part, but because they were already playing the best football in Europe, and there was no reason for them to make adjustments or tamper with a team that was already achieving superior results.

    They didn’t need Cesc, nor did they need Alexi Sanchez. So why did they sign them? And the person they screwed over most was Tiago Alcantara, who was their own La Masia staple who was being groomed to fill Xavi’s position.

    When they brought in Cesc, it created quite a dilemma. They had Xavi, who is still a fantastic footballer (to say the least), and Tiago, who is positioned to eventually be even better than Xavi. And they promoted Tiago to the first team well before they signed Cesc, as Xavi’s heir apparent.

    So, now they have Xavi, Cesc, and Tiago, and they’re trying to play all three of them at the same time. It’s a political masterclass, but not so much when it comes to playing good football. So, why did they disrupt their own youth development and promotion system in order to sign Cesc?

    As I’ve said about Barca before… Something about the consequences of dancing with the devil…

  • Anne

    Um…sorry… Was that a tangent? 🙂 Anyway…

    @Gord & Ak47:

    I think that the Park situation is certainly a very interesting one, and worthy of keeping an eye on. I’m trying to look into it a bit myself.

  • Anne

    @Johnny Deigh (or anyone else):

    Does anyone happen to have a good slow motion video link to the Per injury? In real time, it’s hard for me to see what caused him to go down.

  • Walter

    About the Per injury I think maybe he did some damage just before that. I remember him heading or blocking a cross a few minutes before that and then he went to the ground together with a striker who was also going for the ball. When he got up because the ball still was in play he ran but he also was limping a bit. So maybe he twisted his ankle in that moment but as the hard man he is he just kept on playing. Until that fatal instant his ankle gave way completely.

  • I think we’re overthinking Park here. He’s no Dong Fangzhou, he was a top player for a poor side in a good league, and has performed well in a good international side.

    He simply hasn’t played because he’s third choice striker. Robin is awesome, so plays whenever he is fit, and when he doesn’t Chamakh steps in. I imagine Park was expected to get more game time with Chamakh away at the ACN, but Thierry came in and has taken Chamakh’s place, so Park remains third.

    We’d have seen much more of Park were it not for Van Persie’s fitness.

  • Just a little spot on the other Euro fixtures thus far… Lyon under our ex player Remi Garde (whom I still see as a possible for management at Arsenal) got a 1-0 win for Lyon (and remember Lyon has no money for transfers – he is working on nothing), and Barca sailed along.

    But following Anne’s thoughts on Barca, Barca are now 10 points behind Real Madrid – which doesn’t really suggest they have done anything to improve this season, but have in fact go back.

    This gap is bad news for Spain – and makes Spain and Scotland seem even closer now, as both are two team leagues, but with huge differences in points between the only two that can win the league.(In Scotland the gap is 14 points).

    What also links the second club in each league is financial matters. Barca, we know, failed to pay their players the summer before last, and Rangers is in administration. It is tough being second.

  • Johnny Deigh

    Tony, Barça failed to pay their players because the company that offered them a billion euros for their television rights went bust and didn’t pay them. Barça then had to borrow the money to pay their players while they negotiated a new television deal with another company.

  • Johnny Deigh

    @Anne & @Walter – Walter, I think you’re right about Per. It looks like he did his ankle a few minutes earlier heading the ball back to Szczesny from a long ball by Mignolet. Immediately he got the ball back and passed it on with his left foot, then reached down to his ankle.

    Probably had damaged/weakened it and then it gave way later when he tried to run onto that ball.

  • DC

    Nice review Phil.
    I’d prefer Verm to play with Kos in the centre (to organise and be calm on the ball) and Coquelin at left back with his energy and attacking prowess on the overlap to keep Robinho busy. Gibbs to possibly come on later in the match to be slowly reared back into 1st team football for the weekend FA cup tie at Sunderland.
    Rosicky with his sharp passing to start ahead of Aaron in the middle with Arteta (his orfanisation and maturity centrally will be crucial fir the remaibder of the season) and Song. Aaron to again be brought on later if need be.
    Ox-Chamb to play up front with Theo and RVP then Thierry to come on later in Second half for his swan- song! I don’t see us losing at the San Siro and can see us scoring at least one. AC Milan are nothing to fear if you attack them!
    If there is no fracture on CT and no ligament or tendon rupture on MRI, then Mertesesaker’s injury looked like a bad twisted ankle and resulting sprain. That’s 4-6 weeks.
    Wrt Barcelona, their overall squad is not as strong as it once was (certainly not stronger than Real’s) and the inclusion of Cesc has created midfield difficulties but injuries (Pedro and Villa in particular) has left them even more vulnerable when they rotate. Against the big boys, Barca always play their all-conquering players which usually succeed but their rotated players and injuries has left them more vulnerable. It is now easier to get past their pressing defence when they rotate their weaker squad members. It just goes to show how important their coordinated and orchestrated work-ethic off-the-ball has been in their successes!

  • DC

    Apologies for the spelling mistakes! Damn predictive texting!

  • Gord

    Most of the injuries of those 3 tendons posterior to the tibia in sports, seem to come from long distance running and are chronic. When any of those tendons seem to get mentioned in football (soccer), it tends to be an impact (getting kicked). I haven’t seen the incident at all (slow motion or full speed), so I haven’t a clue. But that foot has been reconstructed, so even seeing video, if you don’t know what the surgery was, you still might not be able to guess what happened.

    I just hope Per heals fast.

  • Stevie E

    Here’s the team – Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs, Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Walcott, Van Persie.

    Substitutes: Fabianski, Djourou, Coquelin, Arshavin, Benayoun, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henry

  • Bah, should’ve listened to Wenger!! Hope Gibbs stays fit!

  • Stevie E

    Phil
    Great shout on rosicky, I would never have gone for that, I did think Gibbs would start though, only because of Pers injury.

  • Anne

    @Tony:

    Another interesting thing about Barca and the Cesc transfer that I think a lot of people have overlooked… Everyone knows the story about Pep Guardiola, and how he was saving his own number 4 for Cesc, etc, etc.

    However, last season, Barca actually gave the number 4 to Thiago when they promoted him to the first team. When Cesc signed, they had to take the number 4 away from Thiago and reassign it to Cesc:

    “Some problems stare Thiago in the face though. In the past couple months, the Spaniard has been considered the replacement to Xavi and/or Andres Iniesta in the midfield at the Nou Camp.

    However, Thiago has now been stripped of his number four, given to Barca’s newest midfielder Cesc Fabregas.”

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/808810-ac-milan-transfer-news-schweinsteiger-and-alcantara-highlight-latest-rumors

    One way to read this (which fits into the accepted “story” of the Cesc transfer), would be that Barca gave Thiago the number 4 as a way to put pressure on Cesc, and get him to put pressure on Arsenal.

    Another way to read it, however, would be that Barca wasn’t actually expecting to sign Cesc, but then something changed at the last minute. Anyone who remembers how positive I was last summer that the Cesc transfer was never going to happen should already know which way I read it 🙂

    Anyway, sorry to go off topic, but I just thought it was interesting.

  • Arun

    Well it’s all over.Hoping that it might be a bliss in premier league and for a good performance in the fa cup.

  • dan

    Worst performance so far.

  • Gotta say it – Wenger got it horribly wrong tonight. When he saw that pitch he should have played 4-5-1 and parked the bus until the second leg.

  • Mandy dodd

    That was actually quite shocking. We got nothing from the ref, as usual against these teams but we were terrible. Strange tactics, is wenger trying to make the AAA happy or something?
    Still, fourth place is now by far the most important. We really have to sort out some of our mf play at times,hoping jack would come back soon is a gamble that so far has not paid off.

  • What does Wenger do different, tactically? If we play Chamberlain we’d probably have even less possession and less protection defensively. I don’t see how we could’ve shut up shop effectively either, unless we do something horrible like Ramsey MR, Rosicky on the left, Coquelin, Song and… who in the middle? I really don’t see a better alternative than what he did.

    Simply put, we got outplayed on the day. Milan played very well, we played poorly and the scoreline looks bad because of a daft penalty given and an unfortunate slip. Sure the pitch wasn’t great, but it didn’t stop them moving the ball well! The players simply didn’t perform on the day.

  • Phil – to try and impose a passing game on that surface was suicidal.

  • RedGooner

    Mandy I dont quite agree about giving the AAA ammunition its an over used term.
    I would honestly say that over 90% of the Arsenal fan base would rather see Arsen succeed rather than another manager in his place purely because of all he has done for the club.

    Nothing would make the story of Arsenal football club better.
    This season so far we have probably papered over huge cracks more than any season.

    What frustrates most fans is the direction the clubs heading in and the way we conduct our transfers as in last summers fiasco.

    Thats probably not entirely wengers fault.
    We do not have the squad or anything like the calibre of players playing for Arsenal now that we used to have.

    I would argue Cesc and Nasri and others we sold were only reaching a level potential at 24 most teams at the top in football they would be considered the young players BUT we depend on 19 and 20 year olds and a little older as the base of a team Ramsey Wiltshire Walcott to name a few couple that with some poor players in the squad that we cant or dont seem to move on is making life difficult.

    This was a blessing in disguise hopefuly we can focus on 4th place now which to be honest will be no easy achievement and rebuild next season with a couple of quality signings rather than selling them.

  • Mandy dodd

    I do not know regarding tactics but that just looked horrible, recently we have saved some of our better performances for these games but performances like these just make it look like we are going backwards. I am not coming up with answers or solutions, we all know the problems this club has had in the last year or so, but that was very very dissapointing. We really have to pick up from this, and not repeat last years implosion. It was a night where everything went right for them and wrong for us, but we have seen too many of these games in the last year or so. We really need to learn to somehow hold the fort when we know things are going against us.

  • Aye, but they didn’t seem to struggle too much with it. A long ball game would’ve just gifted them possession to hurt us with, given our lack of a big man to win the ball.

    I agree that another playstyle would work better in theory, but with the resources at our disposal I think it would’ve been ineffectual at best and even worse potentially.

  • Mandy dodd

    Do not really disagree with a word of that redgooner, just using a figure of speech more than anything else. But that really was a poor poor performance.
    Still we have to move on, tough assignments await, and as the navy seals say, the only easy day was yesterday!

  • walter

    I thought we didn’t show enough cohesion. I never saw a unit in this game. All players were standing as on an island on their own.

    I know some fans don’t like Mertesacker but I have always considered him one of the best defenders. The fact not having him around showed. With his calm and experience he is the player to have around in such games.

    Playing Gibbs in such a game for his first game after 5 months was maybe not the best thing to do but I can understand that Wenger wanted Vermaelen in the center with Mertesacker away.

  • walter

    Oh and next time use the extra long studs please so you won’t slip that easy.

  • walter

    The good thing is we can forget the CL and can focus on the 2 battles we have left: 4th place and the FA cup

  • A long ball game would have put us behind the ball – they kept in the air constantly and hit us with long cross balls, they didn’t struggle with is because they were comfortable with it… we kept doing these zippy dragging passes that work great on a nice pitch but were just weren’t working tonight – also our attacking pace was nullified by trying to play it on the ground. I don’t agree that we could have done much worse that 4-0 and had we gone out for a draw we could have had a game on at the Emirates in which we could have used our pace and passing to get a result.

    It reminded me of one of those shitty pool tables you get when you are on holiday in Spain that’s not level and the baize has been replaced with a bedsheet – no matter how good you are the local lads will always make you look shit because they know how to play it.

    This is tounament football and we need to be a bit sharper than this.

  • RedGooner

    Walter I agree Metersacker to me is brilliant will prove to be one of the clubs better buys I hope we buy that other chap you done an article on before Vortegen or what ever his name is I think that would make our defence the strongest its been since the george graham era.

    I only hope AW can unload the players he wants to unload in the summer to free up funds to bring in players he needs.

    Atleast now we can rest up midweek like spurs and hopefuly chelsea wins so a few more champs league games and makes life harder for themselves in the EPL.

  • Mahdain

    that was beyond pathetic…im glad wenger put it out as it was post match..the players deserve all the bashing they will get after this..we were beyond awful

  • Mahdain

    now we are technically out unless some miracle happen which will need us to change a lot in the 2nd leg… impossible? nothing is impossible and as a matter of fact if it does happen then it wont be the first time a team came back to beat a team after being trashed by 4 goals in the first leg… in 2004 deportivo came back from a 4-1 defeat in first leg to win the 2nd leg 4-0 and go through aggregate 5-4..and guess who they were playing against? AC Milan.. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/champions_league/3609737.stm

  • DC

    Utterly demoralising performance which looked like a very frightened group of players with no leadership, fight or belief whatsoever! This is a watershed moment for most of these players!
    A two-legged tie is never over even at 2-0 down but it never looked like that from the starting players at ANYTIME – they ALL (apart from RVP and Kos before his injury) really let Arsene Wenger down tonight and embarrassed themselves and their manager! Just look at what ManU did against Chelsea when 3-0 down! No surrender!
    If qualifying for the champions league means that you let yourself down and get outplayed like that in such a massive match, then it really makes it difficult to justify you being allowed to play in that competition!
    Defeats like that also severely damage the hopes you have as a group of players in attracting any quality colleagues from wanting to sign for the club to play alongside you!
    It was very revealing to see Thierry trying to gee-up the defence and midfield five and one has to ask, why do you really need that in the first leg of a two-legged CL tie?! You need to have your own ingrained motivation and professionalism to fight for your team-mates no matter where you are on the pitch!

  • Gooner Gal

    Frankly that was a disappointing and embarrassing display. The team selection and tactics didn’t work, the players played like they had lead in their boots and I think it was not good enough. The defense were not composed from the outset, the midfield looked disjointed and our attack was neutralized.

    Yes we can go on and on about the dire state of the pitch, but there were two teams out there playing on it today and one was able score four goals. We should of adjusted our game to it. I will give credit to Milan for putting us under pressure, getting their tactics rights and never really letting us play. We are better than that display today, but our inconsistancy is painful.

  • DC

    Milan did play well and they surprised me! Ibrahimovic was particularly impressive!

  • DC

    Defeats like that also make it difficult to retain your world-class players, like RVP!

  • Stroller

    Such a depressing performance. I can’t find anything positive to draw from it. If it had Barca turning us over with brilliant football then fair enough, but while Milan were good tonight, I don’t see them as winners of the competition. We went into the game like lambs to the slaughter with no intent to impose ourselves on the game. Milan were allowed to win every man on man contest and the side had absolutely no shape or movement. In the circumstances mistakes were inevitable and sure enough they came, mostly in the shape of losing the ball in dangerous positions and failing to cover spaces or pick up runners.

    I just feel gutted for TH14, that this was the game for him to bow out on.

    I hope that I am proved wrong, but based on recent seasons I do fear that we will now collapse totally and also be out of the FA Cup and 4th place chase by the end of the month. Please let it not be the case with a return to all the unpleasant negativity of last summer.

    The failings and limitations that we have seen in previous defeats this season we all there at once tonight. When will they be addressed ? This wasn’t a one-off!

  • Joe

    any idiots on here going to blame the refs now then? 0pathetic team led by a manger who has no tactical nous whatsoever. I am a thousand percent sure we won’t win nothing with the frog in charge.

  • Gooner Gal

    You what Joe?

  • Shard

    Fuck off Joe…

    Extremely poor performance from the team. No positives whatsoever. Vermaelen had a shocker. Sagna was poor. That’s two of our most reliable players. A third, Koscielny went off injured. Gibbs first game back from injury. Our midfield was anonymous, and the chances we did create (few and far between), their keeper was there to save. Djourou gave up a stupid penalty, and we should have had one at the other end too. That plus the fact that Ibrahimovich was offside on their second goal. But there’s no way we can blame the referee for this. But i reiterate.. Fuck off Joe.

  • Doublegooner

    Gooner Gal & Shard:

    Hope your trying to rally the last few Arsene disciples together to back your leader.

    He’s so old hat.

    Remember this is Arsenal FC not Arsene FC.

    Enjoy his last few months because he’ll be gone in the summer & hopefully the yank’s will be next receiving the venom.

  • DC

    The injury to the commendable and much improved Koscielny has also made the performance doubly painful!
    @Joe,
    I don’t think that any TRUE Gooner is happy tonight (especially those who went to the San Siro and stood in the bitter cold – as i very nearly did but was unable to take the leave) so please try to come up with something more objective than “frog in charge”! The players are far more to blame than Arsene Wenger for such a defeat!

  • Gooner Gal

    It’s such a shame that vile people like Joe crawl out from the sewer and think that because of a game like today, their verbal faeces is acceptable.

    Utterly disgusting.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Doublegonner, Arsenal many of lost a game today, but you sound like one of life’s loosers.

    Weak.

  • Shard

    So that the Fat one can come in? No wonder you call yourself Doublegooner. Fuck off to you too.

  • Joe

    did I touch a nerve wingers lover shards? or is your head so far up wingers rear that you can’t see clearly? to get paid 7million a year, by ripping fans off with ticket prices and the bollox we have to pit up with is a joke. get with reality u dunce we got thumped like we should have and there ain’t no coming back. u think rvp will wana stay at this club? I know where he is heading and it ain’t north london

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Shard, it’s probably the same idiot.

  • Stroller

    @Joe

    There are plenty of Arsenal blogs out there where insulting the club and each other is routine. Why not try them?

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Joe, vote with you feet, stay away from the stadium.
    You’re the biggest joke of them all.

  • Joe

    @gonergal why is he weak? cos get states that we were battered abduction Italy grounding day for arasene fc again? quick go to your leader u can’t vw heard bwinf critical towards him.

  • Gooner Gal

    There is a lot that went wrong today and I am critical of just about everyone on the pitch as well as Wenger, but it is disturbing that there seem’s to be an inability by some people to have a grown up discussion and evaluation of the game.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Joe you are an utter shame. Seriously feeble minded.

  • Doublegooner

    Gooner Gal & Shard,,,

    get yourself down the ground for the spuds game. You can sing Wengers name & make yourself look the pair of village idiots.

    Alternatively you can try & abuse all the 000’s who will be calling for change.

    You just cannot bring yourself to admit your leader is well past his sale by date.

    The club is bigger than Wenger in case you didnt know.

  • Shard

    I had the same thought too Gooner Gal… I’ve had a bad enough time watching the way Arsenal played today. To then come on my favourite blog and see some idiots fucking enjoy the result is just too much for me. Those that have seen me on here know that I very rarely resort to abuses. But seriously. I am not sorry at all about abusing these assholes who want us to turn on OUR club. It’s a dark day for the Arsenal. I will not be polite to people who are only too glad for the chance to call the manager, or the players all sorts of names, all the while purporting to SUPPORT Arsenal.

  • Mahdain

    @walter @tony please will you just keep comments like from joe away from the site? there are many sites out there that welcome idiots like him… hey joe ever heard of le groan? get the fuck out of here and go and write your garbage there

  • Doublegooner

    Gooner Gal:

    There are plans being drawn up for a fans meeting with some very big ‘hitters’.

    The plan is to announce fans will boycott corporate spend, ordinary fans will boycott all merchandise, food & programmes.

    Real fans will force pressure on Kronke where it hurts …his pocket.

    Kronke wont be able to back Wenger..

    Like any business. Customer is King.

  • Gooner Gal

    Double Gooner, I never doubted for a minute that you would be one of the rubbish supporters that booed. Shameful.

  • Mahdain

    and @doubelgooner and @joe you two are the biggest jokes around… idiots like you dont deserve our club and just so you know wenger will be here untill he DECIDES to call it a day..you might as well just pack your bags and go support another team…the lesser idiots we have supporting our team the better

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Doublegonner, I hope you are being honest and that people vote with their feet and don’t turn up, just like they did at the start of the season. As long as you keep renewing your season ticket’s the club will never get the message no matter how much you boo.

  • Doublegooner

    Gooner Gal:

    I booed Wenger when he took the kid off against the Mancs. I’ve never booed players in 40+ years, although I have ‘waved’ certain players when theyve walked off after continued disgraceful lacklustre performances.

    However, as much as some of you think the players let Wenger down, Wenger has been letteing the players down & rewarding many who do not deserve it.

    I cannot stand by & allow this autocrat to continue any longer.

    If you dont like my approach then you can meet me at the Amoury roundabout 30 minutes before every home game or outside the Arkles pub on the 3rd.

    I assume you go to the games ?

  • Gooner Gal

    Of course the other set of fans get a chance to go to games regularly, get behind the team and show that we are not glory hunters and are prepared to support the club and manager through thick and thin.

  • Gooner Gal

    So you’ve been a supporter of Arsenal for more than 40 years and you come on this blog an chat this utter crap. You are more of a joke than I first thought.

  • Mahdain

    @doublegooner you and your fellows can boycott all you want…as the saying in my local language goes “ukinyanyuka sisi tunakaa” where you stand up we sit… boycott all you want but let me tell you there are millions others who will buy all the merchandises from different parts of the world.. and you dont want to renew your season tickets? good riddance im sure there are millions of people who cant wait to have a chance to watch arsenal play on a weekly basis

  • Gooner Gal

    1-1 and with it all to play for, you start booing. shameful. Give up going if I were you as you don’t have spine to be proper supporter.

  • Tasos

    A poor display all round from Arsenal, we were lacking in every department and deservedly lost the match.
    Almost every player failed to turn up tonight, it’s difficult to imagine a worst display at this stage of the competition.

    Milan looked much fresher, sharper and physically stronger than us tonight. If you believe in a mid-season break then Milans performance will give more weight to that argument.

    On a wider issue, English clubs appear to have dropped a level in the CL this season and that does not bode well for the coefficient places in the long term.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Doublegonner, I’ve made it clear what I think of you. Why would I want to meet you…unless that was a weak attempt at a threat?

  • Mahdain

    @goonergal he is not worth it..and i really do hope they all give up their season tickets…we need proper supporters in the stadium

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Shard, there is no way that Joe and Doublegonner’s problems begin and end with Arsenal FC, that is for sure.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Mahdain, I think your right.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Shard, 11.42pm I agree with your points, but I don’t think Kos was having that great a game even before he was forced off. Gibbs is the only one really to emerge with a little bit of dignity in defense.

    Chesney’s alertness in goal could of been better. I am not going to lay the blame at his feet entirely for the goals, but to me he his reactions have been slow for a while. Arteta failed to drive the ball forward or bring others into play when needed either. Song didn’t have a good game and the Milan players seemed to breeze past him, which is so unusual. Ramsey and Rosicky played like they didn’t trust each other to do anything useful with the ball. When they did, it seemed like it was the wrong choice anyway when it should be been passed to someone else. Ibrahimovich looked like he was trying to win a penalty in the first half against Kos, so the warning signs were there.

  • DC

    I think that some objectivity is, and will be, much needed amongst all of this D&G over the next few weeks and the massively important upcoming matches (which include the 2nd leg against Milan and PL games against the Spuds, Lpool & the Geordies)!
    Check out this link and the honest and forthright views of both managers post-match.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17053211

    Milan played as well as they can and we played as badly as we could have! That will always be a bad combination for ANY side especially over 90mins! However, might it be possible to reverse it in the next 90mins?! It certainly couldn’t be any worse!

  • DC

    Or get any worse if you have nothing to lose!

  • Gooner Gal

    I for one have been cheered up a bit by the entertainment that turned up in the form of Joe & doublegonner. I was feeling angry, embarassed and frustrated but some how those two (or one oddity) helped me put things in perspective.

    According to them, supporting the club and manager is ‘so old hat’…as if booing and being asinine was the new vogue.

    As for the great idea and plan to create a bad atmosphere at the forthcoming derby…well it sums up the interlect of the ingrates that claim to be supporters.

    They are not fit to wear the shirt and are not strong enough for the ups and downs of being an Arsenal football fan. I think they should do something else with their sad existance as they can’t cope with this phase we are going through.

  • Gooner Gal

    I’ve heard a little rumour that Joe & Doublegonner are at home making banners out of their own excrement and blood. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the club sit’s up and takes notice. Cos you two sounded very, very angry, but full of bright ideas!

  • Gooner Gal

    At the end of the day we gave em a bit of a headstart…so what!

  • Jerry

    It was a bad performance and everyone has a right to be angry.
    But with that said, everyone should support the club, everyone has bad days, today was Arsenal’s. The season is long with a lot of ups and downs. Any true gooner supports the club through it all!

  • DAN HIGHAMS PARK GUNNER

    i was very disappointed by todays match and result.Milan played very well and knew how to play on that shagpile of a pitch .
    For some reason the arsenal players all seemed to play their worse game of the season.There was a lot of uncharacteristic performances and this was exemplified in the first ten minutes
    with Arteta giving the ball away a few times(which is very unusual statswise).
    Milans second goal was offside (Ibra at start of play and also
    Robinho who was a good 10 yards offside when ball played to Ibra)Tv cameras showing offside line just seemed to make Robinho vanish into thin air.Surely he is interfering with play if he scores in the same movement.The penalty was also very soft
    and 9 times out of 10 wouldn’t be given against any other team than Arsenal.4-0 is a shocker but it could have been a lot better if we had scored from our shots on target.I can’t really remember Szezcny making a save until the 93rd minute so all these people saying it should have been a lot worse (goalwise) were obviously watching a different game than me.
    Think the next 2 weeks are pivotal for the club and we NEED to get behind the team ,there is a cancer spreading through the support at the moment and it is just what the media have been waiting for.Already hearing Talkshite talking about how we miss David Dein (the same orange man who wanted the club to move to
    Wembley,sold his soul (arsenal shares) to the highest bidder (Kroenke)then jumps ship to that Russian obligarch and actively encourages his son (agent prick ) to facilitate moves for Arsenals best players) Yes we really need that cock like a hole in the head.
    Looking forward to saturdays game in the FA Cup – Come on you Reds !!!!!!!!!

  • Arvind

    Well..that was depressing…not one minute did we look like we’d win :(. Here’s my take on the players:

    Szcz: A poor game. Surely should be able to tip Goal 1 and maybe Goal 3 around the post? Just recently I’ve seen DDG (MAnU) make numerous such saves; flying in the air and I always thought most were routine. Turns out they weren’t. Szcz has been on the dip by the way; I’d give Fabianski 2 or 3 games.

    Sagna: Why did he let Ibra run for Goal 2? Just didn’t track back. Sure he though it was offside..it wasn’t. And no one tracked back. No one. It was sad.

    Verm/Kos/Song/Djourou: I didn’t think they were great. Ibrahimovic had an absolute stormer yesterday. Just destroyed us; seemed to have so much time. The Kos injury doesn’t help either. I do hope it isn’t a twist which rules him out as well. If it is; then it’ll be a miracle to even get 4th cause he has been the glue all season in defense.

    Gibbs: Was our best player on the night I felt and steady in defense. The fact that he was coming back I think helped; and he focussed more than the rest. Well played.

    Song/Arteta/Ramsey: Ran around I guess; but were quite ineffective. Ramsey just vanished after the first 20 minutes. Totally vanished. He does this a lot in games and then pops up later. Its something he might want to work on. He is young though and has the chance to improve. Song and Arteta just looked jaded. I’d give Coq a go for a bit. It cant hurt.

    Rosicky: Looked very busy but he’s more of a bench player for us to keep possession than for us to win a game. Playing him as part of an offensive third is a defensive more than an offensive option.

    Theo: Never got in. Nothing to feet. Neutralized.

    RVP/Henry: Tried, did okay but really too much for either to do on their own when our defense and midfield were quite poor…overall.

    Well..I just hope we somehow get past Sunderland; which is going to be very hard and scrape 4th so we can continue rebuilding next year. Its been a hard hard year. Come on guys.

  • The Greatest come back ever is awaiting the believers, in ten minutes The Arsenal have 2goals and in 36 minutes its 3goals Joe and doubleshit are sweating a penalty in the 42nd minute goes with a red card Joe and doubleshit puke wot are they gona talk about!! Its only the first half we have the second HALF @d Emirates its not over until its over. BELIEVE or Else quit. Lets go GUNNERS, Sunderland is the next victim in the firing rage;i pity them.

  • Arvind

    Ha Ha nice stuff Kampala…. I’m not quite sure about that story though..much much as I’d love it to be true 🙂

  • Well Wenger has been exposed in front of the only people he really cares about;his european peers.His reputation as a manager is in tatters,This season has seen our worse ever league result,our worse ever european result and this sat we will go out of the FA cup.This group of players have no desire,grit or determination;if those on this site think that is acceptable then fine, but the great name of Arsenal football club has been shamed throughout europe.No wonder we can’t keep hold of any decent players.Still we have Thomas Eisfeld,and we have given the useless Djourou a new contract,the future is bright ha ha.David Dein is worth 100 of Gazidis and the current board;he had the foresight to realise that there is no point having a top stadium without a top team to play in it.The Emirates will be empty next season;we will find it hard to find good sponsorship deals and we are stuck with the dross we can’t get rid of because they are on ridiculous wages.This club is in serious trouble and you can call me all the names you like.I am an Arsenal fan not a Wenger Fan,and i will be here long after he is gone.I hope this site affords the next manager such charity in its assessment of his performance,but somehow i doubt it.

  • Asif

    I am more worried about Kos being injured and Djourou replacing him! No matter how much I would want to agree with Wenger but Djourou is just not upto the mark…For the last two seasons we have been let down by poor defending and it has again let us down. We talk about players improving but then we can’t have absolute novices learn on the job in a champions league match (there are other avenues for that)! What do we do now…I am really scared. One more injury to our defenders and we are done for the season!

  • Pat

    After a result like this, best thing is to forget it. I suppose our worst result in Europe had to happen some time. Most important now, get behind the team so they are not affected by it. Pity we’d used up all our subs – maybe Andrei would have come on and given Thierry one or two of those crosses!
    Arsenal forever, Untold forever!
    And whatever you do, don’t read the papers!

  • Walter

    It’s because of them shirts I tell you. We must burn them with a ceremony. Last season they didn’t bring us any luck and now for some reason we had them again.

  • Johnny Deigh

    Arsenal were poor overall on the night and deserved to lose but you can’t say the match officials didn’t play a part in the margin of the defeat.

    Their 2nd goal was clearly offside – Ibrahimovic was two or three feet in front of the last defender when the ball was passed. So it should have been only 1-0 at halftime.

    The ref gave them a dubious penalty for their fourth and if he gives that then there is no excuse for not giving the penalty against Van Persie a couple of minutes thereafter.

    A fair result would have been 3-1 with Arsenal still with a chance over the two legs.