After beating the Rossoneri 2-0 at the San Siro, the Gunners are in full-control heading into their second-leg clash against the Italian side on Thursday night. The visitors will need to score at least three goals against the North London club if they have any hope of cementing their position in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey secured the victory for the Gunners in the reverse fixture, and they’ll be hoping to produce another top performance going into the clash on Thursday night. At the weekend, the London club did well to secure a 3-0 victory against the mid-table side, Watford, whilst their opponents defeated Genoa thanks to a late goal from Andre Silva.
In the aforementioned fixture against the Hornets, it became obvious that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had begun to prioritise the Europa League over the Premier League. Players such as Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny, and Jack Wilshere were all absent from the starting lineup in order to rest ahead of the of the last-16 game, although the latter briefly featured towards the end of the Premier League clash.
The Gunners currently sit twelve points off Liverpool in fourth place with no sign of qualifying for the Champions League through the top four places. By being in the Europa League, the Gunners have the perfect backup option for getting back into Europe’s illustrious competition, next season. Going into the fixture with a two-goal lead, it is widely expected that the North London side will secure their spot in the quarter-finals.
However, as proven with their second-leg clash with Swedish outfit Ostersund, it’s important the Gunners do not get complacent against the Italian side. Two quick goals from Hosam Aiesh and Ken Sema nearly dented the Gunners’ Europa League hopes until Sead Kolasinac found the net just after half-time and ended the opposition’s European aspirations.
Against AC Milan, there are absolutely no excuses should the North London side fail to earn their place in the next round of the competition. Apart from the inclusion of David Ospina and Danny Welbeck, every single player likely to feature in the squad is apart of the Gunners’ strongest lineup and is expected to perform at the top of their game.
With a two-goal lead in hand, it’s time for the Gunners to finally reach the quarter-finals of a European competition, once again.
As previously mentioned, it is expected the rested players of Ramsey, Koscielny, and Wilshere will all be selected in the starting lineup for the AC Milan game.
Elsewhere, the Spanish duo of Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal recently returned to full injury following injury problems and are both expected to play a part of the game on Thursday night.
Regarding current injuries, both Alexandre Lacazette and Santi Cazorla are still out and are not expected to return to the squad anytime soon.
Predicted Lineup: D. Ospina; H. Bellerin, S. Mustafi, L. Koscielny, N. Monreal; G. Xhaka, J. Wilshere, A. Ramsey; M. Ozil, D. Welbeck, H. Mkhitaryan (4-3-3)
Match Facts and Stats:
- Kick-off: 8.05 pm
- UK Channel: BT Sport 2
- Arsenal’s last five games: LLLWW
- AC Milan’s last five games: WWDLW
- The Gunners have a win percentage of 73.33% at home in league competition this season whilst the visitors have a win percentage of 46.67% away from home.
- Sky Betting Odds: Arsenal Win 21/20; Draw 13/5; AC Milan Win 13/5