By Bulldog Drummond.
Who would have thought it? Instead of being seen as a dire warning as to where a club should not go, the anti-Arsenal attacks on the club and Mr Wenger are being seen as a model that can be transferred to other clubs. Likewise the mainstream media’s constant attacks on Arsenal are being replicated elsewhere.
Tottenham and Liverpool are safe, and as long as they get top four finishes and don’t win a trophy they’ll be given all the plaudits from the media that they want. Because getting a top four finish and not winning a trophy is what it is all about. Isn’t it?
Oh, perhaps not.
Manchester City are also safe from attack, despite the continuing growth and expansion of the investigations into City and its clone clubs for breach of transfer regulations (which we have been following here). Not every newspaper deems that story newsworthy but Fifa and the CAS do. More on that anon.
But try this for size from the Telegraph…
“Manchester United fans must hope Alexis Sanchez has at least hit rock bottom and cannot slip any further”
Or from the awful Daily Mail
“United fans rage on Twitter as they urge ‘awful’ Pogba to ‘grow the f*** up’ after dismal display in European exit”
And the blog Football Fan Cast has a decent piece on this too
“Double Standards: How the media treats each top six team differently”
Anyway, back to the game.
Milan have to score three to win, two to get extra time. They have in fact scored five in their last six matches in total. Arsenal meanwhile have scored five and conceded none in their last two. Which is promising.
And tickets at the Emirates for the game were incredibly cheap for anyone wanting to buy – it is classified as the lowest level of game in terms of ticket prices. But it hasn’t sold out I’m told. Ah well. Can’t please everyone.
But good news comes from the fact that we have Shkodran Mustafi available. After he came off looking the worse for wear with a groin problem in the Watford game I feared a long break, but it seems he is fine.
Hector Bellerin is also ok but is apparently getting his luggage ready to move his family to Barcelona (again) and might not be quite ready enough. However Nacho Monreal is also apparently ok to play. Alexandre Lacazette is said to be two weeks away from being ready to play and so should be back after the internationals. And the silly rule means that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible.
So the goal scoring prognostications are good, as is the fact that in each of the 11 previous knockout ties in Europe, when we have won the first leg away from home we go on and win the tie.
In fact we have always gone through (in both qualifiers and later knock out rounds) when we have won the first leg by two goals or more. It has happened 24 times so can’t really be called a fluke.
On the other hand Milan haven’t recovered from a two-goal deficit in the first match of a knock out tie since October 1985. The victims there were Auxerre to whom they had lost 3-1 in the first leg.
Another rather surprising fact is that no team based in Italy has ever won an away match in the Europa League in London. Roma, Juventus, Lazio, Inter Milan and Fiorentina (twice) have all tried it but none has managed it. Perhaps it is the local food.
Davide Calabria (with a calf injury) and Ignazio Abate (with a muscle injury) failed to make it to the airport so won’t be playing.
As for ourselves, something along these lines might be possible…
Chambers Koscielny Mustafi Monreal
Ozil, Welbeck, Mkhitaryan
Bellerin will presumably at least make it to the beach, along with Maitland-Niles, Holding, Elneny, Iwobi and Macey.
- Fake News: Extraordinary Stories surround Arsenal and the bonkers headline of the day
- The pressures of being a footballer and the unremitting fear of getting it wrong
- How much have Arsenal’s rivals spent on transfers in recent years?
- Why is it becoming so difficult to find a sponsor for new football stadium?
- Corruption flares up again in Italy, as Premier League figures don’t look too clever
- How much does a club have to spend on transfers to get a trophy?
- Does the team that is top after 14 games usually go on to win the league?