Match Day: AC Milan vs Arsenal, come on you Gunners!!!

Update: Gilberto is unavailable for tonight’s game, Kerrea Gilbert will replace him on the bench, other than that, everything else is correct!Another update: A spelling error on skysports.com confused millions of people who thought Gilbert was going to be on the bench… of course it’s Gilberto.
 

Today is the day. The biggest day of our season so far. We’re in the San Siro and trained yesterday. We will have a light training session later today and prepare ourselves for what will be an awesome game.

Van Persie Returns

Van Persie is ready to return tonight and will have a place on the bench tonight. It’s a real positive to have him back and at the moment, it’s a tonic we really need. Van Persie has ability and class, has an eye for goal and ability to create for others. We all thought he would be our gem this season and unfortunately we have hardly seen him due to a catalogue of injuries. He’s not fit enough to start today, but he will be on the bench and could play a part in the game.

The pre-match hype has been big. Ade, Cescy, Arsene and more have all been talking. Let’s listen to Arsene first as he speaks about Van Persie.

“He has not played for five months really but he can play a part in the game. He is not ready to start but medically it is not a risk. Maybe to start in the game and play above his normal pace, that would be a risk.”

I hope he stays injury free for the rest of the season, as he could really kick start the run in to the title.

Arsenal to Attack

Arsene talks about the game and we’re not going there to defend. With the result in the balance, both teams have to attack.

“I do not like to go away from home thinking my team just has to defend. With a 0-0 result, we know that we have to attack as well as defend. From the first game, we have the belief we can beat them because we dominated the game – that always has an impact on the second game. We will need patience against them in Milan but our pace can be a good asset as well.”

Well, Arsene is right, we can’t defend. If we sit back, Milan will unlock us. As I discussed yesterday, Milan have all four of the “injured” players backand Ancellotti’s talk was all rubbish. We’ve got to play like we did in the first leg, but this time we have to score. Ade’s miss in the first leg means that a nil – nil won’t do. We would all love to win, but a score draw will get us through on the away goals rule. Arsene says we will attack:

“What is good from the first result is we know every time we get the ball we are incited to go for a goal. When you win 2-0 away from home sometimes subconsciously you think you only have to defend. On that basis 0-0 is not a bad result because you know defence is not good enough. You know will have to attack as well.”

Arsenal FC Blog talks about how vital the away goal will be.

An interesting piece in today’s Daily Mail, a twist on Arsene’s words, and a strapping headline, as tabloids always do - “Wenger vows to beat Milan and win respect of Europe“.

Fearless Fabregas

Young Cesc talks about how the team hold no fear. Cesc needs to play well. I remember the game he had against Juventus where he was everywhere, his tackles were inch perfect and he passing was accurate.

“We are young, but we are not scared of anything and we will play our game. You have always seen if we are winning or losing, we will never go to defend. We will always want to attack, because it is the way we like to play and enjoy playing.”

A Cultured Left Foot looks further into Cesc’s comments and how they will rally the troops.

The Squad

The squad was announced yesterday and sees Van Persie back, but Toure out. We’re thin on the ground defensively with Hoyte and Gilberto our only real cover. We’re stronger in midfield (especially if you include Walcott in that category) and a little stronger up front than last week. Rosicky is missing and will definitely be a miss for this type of game. Here’s the squad for tonight’s game:

Goalkeepers: Jens Lehmann and Manuel Almunia

Defenders: Bacary Sagna, Philippe Senderos, William Gallas, Gael Clichy and Justin Hoyte

Midfielders: Cesc Fabregas, Abou Diaby, Alexander Hleb, Denilson, Mathieu Flamini, Gilberto, Theo Walcott and Emmanuel Eboue

Stikers: Emmanuel Adebayor, Nicklas Bendtner and Robin Van Persie

Line Up

Yesterday, I looked at a proposed first XI and bench but after lengthy discussions with many others and hints from Arsene and the English press, the revised starting eleven is as follows:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
Sagna
Right Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Senderos
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
Flamini
Defensive Midfielder
Fabregas
Attacking Midfielder
Eboue
Right Wing
Diaby
Attacking Midfielder
Hleb
Left Wing
Adebayor
Striker

Eboue should return to the first team as his domestic suspension is not carried into European games. He hasn’t played since the last Milan game, so let’s hope he is fresh. Hleb will revert to the left wing and Diaby, Cesc and Flamini will make up a middle three with Ade up front.

The bench will see Lehmann, Hoyte, Gilberto, Denilson, Walcott, Bendtner and Van Persie. More team analysis from Gunners Live.

Tuesday Round Up

Sagna talked to the Sun about the death of his brother, a week before the first leg and how his dad told him to play. He also talks about the squad and the support he has had.

“Now I have to show everyone that I am strong, to show my family I am strong and to carry on with my team-mates. Everyone at the club gave me support and that helped me so much. It’s difficult to talk about it but I really want to thank everyone at Arsenal for what they have done for me in the past few days, the players the staff and everyone.” – More here.

Finally, a quick round up sees Jeorge Bird doing a piece on the Under 16′s, which is definitely an interesting read. And a brilliant piece by Young Guns on how Arsenal kids have it easy.

Well, it’s match day, I’m excited and it’s only a few hours until the game….

Come on you Gunners!!!

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