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Arsenal versus Milan – doing the undoable.

By Phil Gregory

It’s a breakfast blog from me as, were it not for somebody mentioning the Milan game is today not Wednesday in the Untold comments, I would have got the day of the game wrong. Breakfast blog may be a slightly misleading title, as I’m really hoping to get this done before my 10am lecture (on Current Topics in European Integration – how current can you get?) but if not it won’t go live until lunchtime when I’m back from classes briefly.

Anyway, Milan. We’ve got a 4-0 aggregate score to overcome. There’s no way we’ll put out a rotation side, as we’re in a situation where we want to maximise our chance of getting through, and should we not achieve that, we’ll be aiming to give a good account of ourselves and get as good a result as possible to restore jilted pride.

Since Liverpool, we’ve lost Benayoun, while Diaby picked up one of those niggly injuries that are common occurrences when players are out for a lengthy period of time. Arteta too is out after Henderson’s bit of idiocy for which he has escaped any form of sanction from the FA, which is bizarre.  Wenger mentioned there was a knock to Kieran Gibbs which, given the lack of another left back, would force another defensive reshuffle, so hopefully the youngster is fit for this evening.  Tomas Rosicky, one of our last midfielders left standing, is rated as doubtful: fingers crossed he passes his fitness test!

Szcznesy

Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs

Walcott     Song   Rosicky   Gervinho

Van Persie Chamakh

The team is real guesswork, given the plan to switch formation. Even with a change of personnel to account for us only having two central midfielders – being optimistic, I’m assuming Rosicky is fit to play – so balance goes completely out of the window. While the middle two has a reasonable balance – both work hard and are capable of covering the ground, while there is also a natural equilibrium between Rosicky’s attacking prowess and Song’s defensive covering. The balance falls apart on the flanks. Rarely would a team try and go with what are two wingers/attackers on the flanks, as defensively we will be very vulnerable when we don’t have the ball.

I suppose one possibility is playing Van Persie nominally in midfield in the attacking midfielder role, but really the 442 that I’ve put together above achieves something similar, with Van Persie dropping off Chamakh.

The defence will be exposed throughout the game given we are effectively playing five attacking players, and no doubt Song will get involved in attacks too! To keep a clean sheet, the back four and goalkeeper will need to play a collective blinder, keeping Milan’s attackers who did so much damage to us in the first leg completely nullified, while also ably supporting the attack in the case of the full backs.

I’m running out of time so I won’t talk too much more. The big, big worry is going to be the space in front of our defence. We need to go all out attack to restore some respectability to the aggregate score and give us a chance of getting through, and that is going to mean that we push players forward. Milan’s attackers were very, very dangerous dropping off our defence and playing in behind, so our aggressive approach will unfortunately play into their hands in this regard.

Our main hope has to be that we can get a couple of quickfire goals and then put the fear into them. Our biggest weapon is the fact that we’re at the Emirates, the pitch will be fantastic so we can play our scintillating football that has blown top sides away at the Emirates in Europe recently. If we can put in a season-best performance, play without fear and grab a couple of goals, we can put the fear into Milan that they will throw the aggregate away – as they have done once or twice in their recent history – and if they play within themselves with that in mind… maybe, just maybe.

 

59 comments to Arsenal versus Milan – doing the undoable.

  • Julian

    Rosicky can play arteta’s role very well, as we’ve seen in recent matches, when they changed positions during the game. I hope Song is up to his best because his positioning and interceptions/tackles should be perfect, and to make the needed connection between defence and midfield.

  • Dan T

    There is always a chance. I would like to see RVP play in the number 10 role with the Ox and Walcott infront of him…. and what the hell, throw Gervinho up there too – This is certainly not a game to be cautious. We need to scare them from the 1st minute and really could do with a couple of goals before half time, camp in their half then they will be reduced to long-ball clearances.

  • hello Arsenal fans how are you doing there.i want you to know that we have a big game today so all of you to have a fit okay we are going to win this game okay i beveled in Arsenal okay so don’t you worry okay today is Arsenal day okay.thank you so much and see you after the game..

  • Okay Okay!!????

    Whilst I am not expecting us to go through, I expect a great game. Arsenal will be a one shot kill for Milan, One goal for them and we are done, and could lead to a humiliating scoreline. If we score first however…..

    In perspective of our recent ability to come back against teams over 90 minutes (normally in the second 45) Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa, from one or two goal deficits, the task at hand is pretty much the same, meaning we have more time to score more goals over 90 minutes. We know we can score, we just need to be as clinical as we have been the last couple of weeks.

    C’mon you Gunners!

  • Rich_Fryer

    I was wondering if we might go 4-3-3 with the Ox as the attacking midfielder, with Walcott and Gervinho on the wings and RVP up front. He’ll work hard, he’s quick and he has an eye for goal.

  • RedGooner

    Do we want to go through ?
    I mean with the likely hood of us been above Sp*rs in 2 weeks time do we want midweek matches before we play City and Chelsea in the league or away to Stoke and Wolves …..

    Im on the fence here and wish we rested up players and focused purely on the EPL without risking further injury. Thats despite the fact that some people paid lots of moey previously for tickets etc.

  • Jerry

    The only change I’d make to the lineup is the Ox instead of Chamakh. I think Arsene is going to go all out attack similar to how he did at the end of the liverpool game. We need to score fast, might as well have 2 of the fastest footballers on the field at the same time!

  • Yommex

    7-2 to Arsenal. RvP scoring 2, Walcott getting 2, AOC and Gervinho a goal each with Milan conceding an own goal to make it 7! Lest I forget, Van Bommel gets a red card in the first half and two yellow cards result into the sending off a second player in the second half! Gunner4Life!!!

  • Maleek Prince

    All hope not lost but we need to be cautious in the way to approach tonight game. Lets start Carl Jerkinson from the right back if we are to field Chamakh as we all know that he is only good at nodding and Carl will supply him the needed crosses.And Sagna should start from the left full back in the absence of Gibbs.
    We’ve done it before the unthinkable thing,lets do it again tonight. Gunners till I fade off.

  • JohnW

    Actually we will win 2-1; 1-1 at half time. My prayer is that Arsene experiments with Theo as the central striker instead of Chamack if he decides to switch to 442. What however might work in our favour is the fact that all Milan players’s interviews write The Arsenal off, and that can sometimes be very dangerous with Arsenal.

  • Wooby

    @JohnW, agree with you re: Walcott in the middle with RVP. I don’t think Chamakh is up for the moment – if anything I’d start Park ahead of him. I’d have Ox on the right. The dreamer in me says 6-1 for us, let’s hope dreams come true.

  • Gord

    Thanks for the predictions Phil, et al.

    @Yommex
    Somehow, I don’t think the prediction of a straight red to Van Bommel in the first half and two yellows to a single Milan player in the second half is going to fly. It’s nice thinking, but we haven’t had much luck on having the other team booked.

    I am going to hope for no more injuries. And I wish the guys the best of luck.

    I have another game to follow as well tonight: Canada versus France in the Cyprus Women’s Cup final. England against Italy in the 3rd-4th game.

  • Notoverthehill

    In the current season, Mr. Wenger has gone for a 4:2:3:1 starting XI. I cannot see any change in formation.

  • akasuna

    Wooby, I dreamt the same dream as you!! FLY Arsenal!!

  • nicky

    @RedGooner,
    The only voice of sanity in a mass of crazy optimism.
    We should be concentrating on making sure as many of our decimated first team squad are fit for next Monday’s important game against Newcastle. We lie 4th in the EPL, a position only dreamed of a few months ago. Our No.1 priority THIS SEASON must be to gain entrance into the CL next season and to risk further injuries by a gung ho attack tonight would be foolhardy in the extreme.
    With the best will in the world, to score at least 4 goals WITHOUT REPLY against a wily Italian side experienced in CL campaigning and capable of all the tricks of the foiling trade,
    is, IMO, beyond our present capability.
    By all means let us try to create some fear but with great
    care. 😳

  • Ong Bing

    Guys, this is only almost impossible, but still possible to go through next round.

    I am betting in Arsenal games and other games. I expected the odds for Arsenal to go through is more than 50 (it mean you get 50 for bet 1), but they only give 26 (I take it, off course!!!)

    For betting at odds around 20, sometimes I win it, so it is not impossible. (the odd for RVP make hattrick in Chelsea game (that we win 5-2) is 70, today game only 18)

    Betting house can be wrong, but todays game is expected has 4 or more goals, odd for over 2.5 goals is 1.61, and over 3.5 goals is 2.62 (if you bet 1 for over 3.5 goals and win, you only get 2.62)

    So I put my bets at:

    – Arsenal go through next round @ 26
    – firt half goals over 3.5 @ 17
    – Arsenal goals over 4.5 @ 21 (I want more than over 4.5, but over 4.5 is the highest over)

    I hope will wins all of them!

    (anybody interest bet on Walcott make hattrick? the odd is 81)

  • Sammy

    ARSENAL LINEUP IN 2016

    —————– Benik Afobe

    —Ryo Miyaichi –Jack Wilshere — Alex-Oxlade

    —– Francis Coquelin — Emmanuel Frimpong/Aaron Ramsey

    Kieran Gibbs – Ignasi Miquel- Kyle Bartley – Carl Jenkinson

    ————— Wojciech Szczesny (C)

    What do you think about the above Gooners?

  • Basil

    Nicky,Red,totally agree with you guys,finishing in the top 4 HAS to be our priority,if we don’t we can wave bye bye to RVP,Song and possibly Theo in the summer.I watched Milan demolish Palermo away at the weekend and i hate to say it but they were ruthlessly efficient;this is not Tottenham we are dealing with.I would HATE anything to happen to RVP or any of our players as we are crippled by injury.I’m a realist,not a romantic and at this moment would put the league ahead of everything else.I hope we win the game though!!!

  • Ruaridh

    just seen the line-up. could be the future of arsenal bar 1 or two players, quite exciting!

  • dy

    honestly speaking this is the one game this season where Arsenal can experiment with different formations with different players, though unfortunately some are injured and not present. Win or lose, I want to see Ox Chamakh and Park on the field.

  • Ugandan Goon

    @Steve E,
    Fantastic spot, thanks for sharing!

  • RedGooner

    The Ref’s a peach thinks he is a wedding handing out cards like confetti …… Nice early goal though.

  • RedGooner

    2-0 Even the Ref couldnt stop that one 🙂 with his niggly one sided performance.

  • Gord

    Keep going guys (3-0)! RVP at 43 minutes.

  • AnT

    wowww… 3:0 at 1st half… it’s getting near to the impossible! keep believing guys!

  • Ong Bing

    What a first half, we not playing good, but score 3 goals!
    Mental game!

    I hope we watch the history in making.

    (oh, i just need another one goal to win my firt half bet)

  • RedGooner

    Yeah 3-0 They dont have 2 fresh strips of bobbly grass tonight to keep the game narrow and play long ball al night.
    Must be fun getting spread out all over the pitch and knowing that you have to play on a level playing field tonight.
    Karma’s a b!tch sometimes.

  • as i told you check out in the archives we will prevail,lets go gunners

  • The ref did he talk to mike riley/?????

  • Mandy dodd

    Heroic but yet again….the ref…..

  • niw i can sleep soundly and im proud to be a gunner.

  • Ong Bing

    Sadly, we cannot make another goal.
    Sayounara CL, see you next year.

  • AnT

    well done boys! proud of the game tonight although it could have been better. Nevertheless, it’s good to be a gooner!

  • Mandy dodd

    Well we can focus on powering our way to third. This run should give the team confidence, just hope the latest batch of injuries not too bad…again.
    Our team given very little protection, constant body checking, unpunished yet we got a yellow every time we put a tackle in. We tired in the end but credit to our team, they knew one false move and a player would be off. Calicopolli in the Cl.?

    But as I say, heroic.

  • bjtgooner

    This was a great effort by the team – to be fully praised. Sadly we are out, but we can now concentrate on the EPL.

    The ref was c**p. He bought into every dive and let them away with far too many fouls. Hope Walcott is OK.

    Just seen Kos being interviewed – came across very well.

  • Ruaridh

    wtf, the ref is card friendly in the 1st half then is ridiculously leniant on Milan in the 2nd half??? Milan should of had at least two more yellows in the 2nd half…

    RVP-that clip over the top to make it 4-0 is who he is and I wouldn’t want him to loose that flair just because of Abbiati’s save (rather than calling it a miss).

    Rosicky’s back!

    Top class performance by the back four.

    Gervinho off form a bit?

    The Ox has now officially landed, whoa, what a prospect, only 18 and if he didn’t get injured I think we would have got the 4th!

    Surprising note-how impartial Gary (one of the Chuckle brothers) Neville was when commentating.

    Funniest moment of the night, the other Sky commentator comparing Chamaks goal ratio to Torres and Carol-hilarious!!!!!!

  • Ruaridh

    Van Bommel deliberately kneed wallcot (from Ruud Gullit’s mouth himself), while on a yellow!!!

  • Ruaridh

    3rd place here we come!

  • Mandy dodd

    Sky panel just joking that van bommel kneed Walcott to force him,out of the game. Saw that, vb was already on a yellow. One of two or three incidents which should have taken vb off the pitch. A player who seems to get away with a lot for some reason considering the way he plays.
    Yet again, I await the ref review with interest.
    On a positive note, ox will soon be a world beater, in fact we will soon have a few in this team. And how good was rosicky until he tired.

  • marcus

    Interesting game? Not really…once again I am really surprised at how abject the refereeing was, (assuming nothing more sinister is at work)

    Glad Ibra never came to AFC – big diving fairy.

    The ref was pretty dreadful though….Song booked because Ibra took an air shot -wtf!!

    Mexes blatantly took out Vermaelen…

    and so on..

    did it cost us the match….probably not, unless you count the VP penalty from the first leg…or Walcot’s non-offside…(erm…cough cough)…

    Overall though just such abject refereeing….how does the it work, that’s what bothers me. 60K fans + TV Channels = X (3?) million revenues?

    Out of X million revenues, can they not pay referees enough to be better than incompetent half-wits….or worse?

  • Mandy dodd

    Agree on the abject refereeing, but you can bet your life real or barca will never be on the end of officiating like that, because if they were, the ref in question would be relegated to a game on an IED Ridden pitch in afghanistan

  • nicky

    A great effort which almost came off. It must give the squad a good deal of confidence for the rest of the season.
    On the down side I hope the injuries to the Ox and Walcott may be minor. We need everyone available as we seek to cement our 4th position in the EPL at the end of the season.
    I’m glad the Europa Cup DOESN’T beckon! 😆

  • marcus

    for sure Mandy…I don’t want to sound like a cracked record…

    bah bah bah…the refereeing …

    I thought we looked a bit insipid 2nd half….still…. 3-0 up with a half team…pretty decent show overall…

    but if you really analyze his showing, it was rank awful…saw at least 2 blatant non free kicks in really dangerous areas for Milan….given that all they needed was 1 goal to make things almost out of reach…you have to wonder…

    He was at best freaking useless…and I suspect Walter’s famous biasometer will make interesting reading….

  • bjtgooner

    @Marcus

    Agree about Ibra – he took about 4 dives to get free kicks or get our players booked. He is a total disgrace, so is his manager for not stamping it out and so was our ref tonight for not punishing it.

    Sky reported the Ox was injured, I thought he came off because he was tiring, can anyone provide more info on this?

  • RedGooner

    Probably the best result for us when you see Ox and Theo limping off we dont have enough fit players to be playing midweek and weekends.
    It built more confidence and we can focusing on chasing down a top 3/4 finish now with no distractions.

    lol@ Afganhistan ….you could have a point there Mandy.

  • Oi – I wrote the the code to generate the biasometer table… although it is entirely useless without Walter’s fine data – admittedly. 😉

  • WalterBroeckx

    Not yet from under the shower but I wrote a my first impressions right after the game.
    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/19307

  • Ugandan Goon

    That lot are apparently top of the italian league, HA!
    There are a lot of teams that have injuries to thank for their little flukes against us, i think they know who won this particular duel.that was good, we acquitted ourselves well, Jack Wilshere and Andre Santos might have just tipped the balance.
    Ah well, next year.
    up the Arse!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Dilemma time Dogface, as we are running behind with the reviews I was not planning to do this game.
    But he was a good Kassai-apprentice to say the least…

    Shocked about the foul that took out Walcott was not even given…

    did you notice it took him half an hour to decide to give a penalty and only I think because the ref behind the goal told him to give it he gave it. This was such a clear penalty you should blow it even before the players hit the ground….

    Oh well… more thoughts in the new article

  • Fuck it – do it if you have time – it’s not data we can really use in future as it’s a one off. I would if there is interest – or perhaps keep these games in the bag for the summer i.e. an Arsenal CL Ref Review series when you have more time?

  • marcus

    Oh dear…sorry DogFace…

  • Nah – just jokes Marcus, we work as a team and the real value is in the raw data – anyone with a SQL skills could gen the layout.

  • marcus

    Save your powder Walter…we all know he was rank

    But what would be cool would be the Dogface + Walter challenge..

    I would love to see if you went through every post Eduardogate game and itemized every penalty not given to Arsenal. 2 categories:

    Stonewall
    +
    Very Strong Shout

    For one it would make a great 2 hour video on Vimeo,
    2) anyone who says you’re a conspiracy theorist, (which I always
    take as a compliment), can then face you down by proving their club is equally disadvantaged…

    I somehow doubt it

  • marcus

    Sadly for Arsenal it a NoSQL night

  • Whoa – I don’t do match analysis, that requires a qualified referee… speaking of which – any qualified referee’s out there want to put some time aside for a good cause?

    🙂

  • bjt,the ox picked up a hammy at the start of the second half,i think he received treatment on the pitch,but was clearly hampered by it and Arsenal’s momentum was lost.Wenger kept him on for a bit,probably because of lack of bench options,lets hope this doesn’t mean he is out for weeks because the less said about Chamakh and Parks contribution the better.Mandy.ironically there is a meeting this week in Spain between the clubs and the referees,but Barca are refusing to attend because they think they are being targeted by the refs!!! Also there is a bit of a hoohah in Italy at the moment with Juventus claiming they are getting unfair treatment as well;they keep being denied penalties(only 1 all season)whilst Milan have been awarded 8!!!

  • Goonergerry

    Great effort from the team. I think our tough itinery was the main reason we could not quite get over the line- that and the poor quality of our back up strikers could not maintain our earlier momentum.
    Italians are dirty what’s new?They buy players like Van Bommel for one reason only and you al saw it in the world cup final.Sadly we lost the tie over there with asub standard performance.At least we showed the world that we are better than that.

  • Mandy dodd

    Barca targeted by refs! I admire the way they play, but no way can they say they are victims of refs from what I have seen of them. They needed a bent ref to get past us last season. Great team, but heavily protected, as are their rivals, but Jose always did know how to charm the more easily influenced refs