Arsenal vs. Milan  3 - 0

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Van Bommel: Milan were ´outclassed´ by Arsenal

7 March 2012 07:42

Mark van Bommel was relieved after AC Milan progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League despite losing to Arsenal on Tuesday.

The Italian side had arrived in north London with a four-goal advantage after their first-leg encounter with the Gunners at San Siro three weeks ago.

However, the Italian champions were 3-0 down by the break, following goals from Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky and Robin van Persie, and only just managed to progress to the last eight after shoring things up at the back in the second period.

Asked by NOS after the game if he was relieved, Van Bommel replied: "Yes, you can say that!"

"This game had everything. (But) I think it is our own fault, because we gave them the their confidence back."

"In the first half, Arsenal outclassed us with their powerplay. But I think we played a lot better in the second half."

Having managed to get through to the last eight of the Champions League, Milan must now switch their attention back to Serie A and Sunday's meeting with Lecce at San Siro.

Article

Champions League: Arsenal 3 AC Milan 0 (agg 3-4)

7 March 2012 03:06

Arsenal came within a goal of producing an incredible Champions League comeback on Tuesday but fell just short by beating AC Milan 3-0.

After losing the first leg of their round-of-16 clash 4-0 at San Siro on February 15, Arsenal needed a miracle at the Emirates Stadium, but first half goals from Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky and Robin van Persie had them within sight of a stunning upset.

Milan regrouped at the interval, however, and managed to hold out to secure a 4-3 aggregate victory and book their place in the last eight.

There are few more adept midfield anchormen in European football than Mark van Bommel, but the Dutchman's poor start to this game handed the Gunners hope. After receiving an early booking for a foul on Rosicky, he failed to pick up Koscielny as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain whipped in a corner from the left, allowing the Frenchman to head home at the near post after seven minutes.

If Arsenal were pleased to see van Bommel carded early on, the decisions of the somewhat over-zealous referee soon became an annoyance. Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs saw yellow as Arsene Wenger's team continued to press, with van Persie forcing Christian Abbiati into two good saves inside the opening 20 minutes.

Milan seemed to be slowing the tempo of the game down but Arsenal continued to expose the Serie A side's defence and revived the tie with a further two goals before half-time.

First, Walcott raced down the right wing and fired a low pass across goal that was poorly cleared by an off-balance Thiago Silva straight to the feet of Rosicky, who calmly guided the ball beyond Abbiati on 26 minutes.

Djamel Mesbah, in the absence of Luca Antonini, was enduring a torrid time at left-back and Arsenal were to take advantage of the Algerian in the build-up to their third goal.

Oxlade-Chamberlain broke into the box past Antonio Nocerino only to find his path blocked by Mesbah, resulting in a penalty kick dispatched with aplomb by van Persie just before half-time.

All the focus was on Arsenal's search for a fourth goal in the second half, but they might have had their hopes of progression put to bed if not for goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

First, the Poland international raced off his line to sufficiently narrow the angle and force Stephan El Shaarawy to shoot wide and he was alert enough to repeat the trick on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, this time saving at the feet of the Swede.

Szczesny's efforts were topped by Abbiati as the game approached the hour mark. Rosicky led a break into the Milan half and picked out Gervinho to his left. Abbiati did very well to stop the Ivorian's shot after it had taken a deflection and then proceeded to deny van Persie, who had pounced on the rebound, from point blank range.

Szczesny was to make an equally important save 15 minutes later, but knew less about it. Substitute Alberto Aquilani slid a pass across the Arsenal box towards the back post and with half the goal to aim at, Nocerino poked his effort tamely back into the legs of the 21-year-old goalkeeper.

Arsenal's second-half display was less dynamic than their first. Rosicky used the ball well but struggled to exert a consistent influence over the game, as did Gervinho, while Walcott displayed his more frustrating side after a positive first 45 minutes.

Marouane Chamakh joined van Persie in attack but it was a creator, not a goalscorer, that the Gunners needed.

A dreadful Alex Song pass as Arsenal attacked for the final time summed up a disappointing second half that left Wenger's players dejected at the final whistle despite such a strong performance and victory.

Article

Wenger blames exit on fitness

7 March 2012 01:02

Arsene Wenger says injuries and fatigue prevented his Arsenal team from finding a crucial fourth goal in their futile 3-0 victory over AC Milan.

The English Premier League club came into Tuesday's Champions League round-of-16 second leg trailing 4-0 to Serie A title holders Milan.

The hosts netted three times in the first half of the match at Emirates Stadium, but proved unable to force another goal in the second period, allowing their Italian visitors to progress 4-3 on aggregate.

"We had no midfielders at all on the bench and we suffered a bit, when we got tired in the second half, to keep the ball and get them more fatigued," Wenger said.

"We knew we had given a lot and had some players who are not used to playing at that level in midfield, like (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain."

"Some players had knocks and we needed to score goals and not concede against a team like that, and I felt our defenders were absolutely outstanding today."

"Otherwise I'm sure we would have scored two or three more goals in the second half, but we put a performance in with fantastic spirit and restored some pride after the first leg."

"We had chances throughout and we can keep our winning run going, and that is important. Unfortunately we have paid the price for the bad first game."

"Overall, we have given everything and that's all you can do at the top level. Give everything, and afterwards you can accept the result even if it's a disappointing one."

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie nearly made it 4-0 just before the hour mark, pouncing on a rebound from Gervinho's initial strike.

Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati gathered van Persie's lofted effort comfortably, and it proved to be one of Arsenal's last real chances in the match.

"I think he (van Persie) wanted to chip the goalkeeper because he was down, but he got up quickly," Wenger said.

"Abbiati did well and unfortunately we couldn't score. I hoped that in the last 10 or 15 minutes we could create some dangerous situations in front of goal but unfortunately that didn't happen."

"We didn't have enough drive anymore and because we played with too many strikers, we needed free kicks and crosses and we didn't get them."

Article

Abbiati taking nothing for granted

6 March 2012 13:16

AC Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati has warned his team not to underestimate Arsenal in their Champions League last 16 clash on Tuesday.

The Serie A champions have one foot in the quarter finals after a 4-0 victory against the Gunners in the first leg at San Siro last month.

However, Abbiati is taking nothing for granted, and reminded that Deportivo La Coruna overturned a three-goal deficit against Milan in the 2004 Champions League quarter-finals.

"No, (the tie is not over), because Milan have bad memories of that experience against Deportivo," Abbiati told Uefa.com.

"We definitely have a good advantage and we need to make the most of that. But we will have to work hard until the end."

The 34-year-old custodian admitted he is relishing the prospect of facing Robin van Persie, whom he singled out as Arsenal's main threat on Tuesday.

"He is very dangerous," Abiatti said. "I like him very much. He is a great player, still young, and he has great qualities."

"I think we will have to be careful against Arsenal and especially against him."

"It is always nice to come up against forwards of that standard in matches like this. When two big teams play each other, it definitely provides a spectacle."

Article

Wenger willing to take risks against Milan

6 March 2012 06:43

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may have to alter his formation for the visit of AC Milan in the Champions League.

The Gunners will need at least four goals to beat the Italian club - either by taking the game to extra time or beating them outright by five goals.

And Wenger has stated that he may have to go for broke on the night with injuries to several midfielders, adding that he is thinking about playing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in a central role.

"I am tempted," Wenger told the club's official website. "At the moment, basically I have only two midfielders, (Alex) Song and (Tomas) Rosicky."

"That means we have to play with four strikers. We can play any system you can imagine until (Tuesday) night. But I will not tell you that now."

"I am tempted (to play Oxlade-Chamberlain centrally), we will see. I have (around) 24 hours and I have to see if Rosicky is available or not."

"If he is not available then I will be in a very difficult situation, because I don't know what I can do then."

"I hope he will make it. He told me (on Sunday) that he will. But the medical staff are not sure."

"I can play six strikers if I want, I have enough. I have (Marouane) Chamakh, (Chu-Young) Park, (Robin) Van Persie, Gervinho, (Theo) Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain. I can take a risk, because I have no choice, basically."

Article

Champions League preview: Arsenal vs AC Milan

5 March 2012 08:25

Arsenal need a second-leg miracle if they are to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals at the expense of AC Milan.

Thrashed 4-0 in the first leg at the San Siro on February 15, Arsene Wenger's men will become just the fourth team in the history of UEFA competition to overturn a four-goal first-leg deficit if they can achieve the massive task on Tuesday.

The English Premier League club enter the clash with plenty of confidence after beating rivals Tottenham 5-2 and Liverpool 2-1 in their last two league games.

But Milan's form is better still - they are on a run of five consecutive matches without defeat in all competitions and sit three points clear atop Serie A.

Massimiliano Allegri will be wary of the threat Arsenal pose after Wenger's side scored five times in the space of 30 minutes in the win over Tottenham.

Frenchman Wenger, who could add the likes of Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby, Yossi Benayoun and Kieran Gibbs to an already lengthy injury list after the Liverpool win, said his side were capable of a sensational turnaround.

"We want to make the impossible possible - that is our target. It seems impossible but you have to play with belief and think you can do it," Wenger said.

"You never know in this game. Maybe I will change individuals in the team and go for it and see if we can put them under pressure and try to score goals. We have nothing to lose."

"If we have the attitude we showed against Spurs, nothing is fatal. We have talented players up front."

The form of Dutchman Robin van Persie, who netted his 30th and 31st goals this season from all competitions in the win over Liverpool, gives Wenger every reason to believe a huge win is possible.

Stopping the visitors from scoring, however, will again be a tough task for Wenger's side.

Star AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned to Serie A action on Saturday and netted a hat-trick in his side's 4-0 win against Palermo, and the Swede caused Arsenal all sorts of problems in the first leg.

Combined with the dangerous Robinho, Antonio Nocerino and Kevin-Prince Boateng, Milan's attack are equipped to trouble Arsenal, and an early goal for Allegri's men will effectively put the tie to bed.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 0 +0 0
2 0 +0 0
3 0 +0 0
4 0 +0 0
5 0 +0 0

Serie A table

# Team MP D P
10 0 +0 0
11 0 +0 0
12 0 +0 0
13 0 +0 0
14 0 +0 0