Arsenal vs AC Milan
In the second leg in the round of 16 of Europa League, Arsenal will welcome the Italian side AC Milan on their home turf with the advantage of the first leg.
AC Milan travel to London with a hope to create a big turnaround if they are to qualify for the next stage in the competition. That seems an uphill task at the moment. With both the teams struggling to be in the top-four in their respective leagues, the Europa League seem to be their best chance to qualify for the Champions League next season.
AC Milan and Arsenal, both spent considerably during the transfer window. Although Milan couldn’t quite get to their level, in the beginning, they have been solid lately. Arsenal, on the other hand, have failed miserably in the league, currently well out of top 4 spots while the Milanese side are slowly crawling upwards, still below top 4 though.
The Europa league is the golden gate for both the sides to be in Champions League. Arsenal will be hoping to follow their fellow rivals Manchester United, who won the Europa League last season to represent themselves in the Champions League, although unable to finish in the top 4. But, the game will only see one winner, and we’ll have to wait this midweek to know who will move forward.
The Gunners will be confident of going in the next round though, with their 2-0 lead and with the likes of Ozil, and Mkhitaryan who can change the course of the game within minutes. The last game saw Mkhitaryan and Ramsey score within the first half to take their side to that big win.
Although AC Milan were lackluster in their 2-0 loss, they will try to bounce back, and the Gattuso’s side have shown in the league that they have that ability to turn around the game. Arsenal will try to emulate the 3-0 win against the Watford side on Sunday, and AC Milan will try to take the confidence of 1-0 win against Genoa in their meeting with the Gunners.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are beaten in five of their last six matches. The Gunners have a tough opponent away from home and have a torrid away form this season.
The Wenger’s Men have won only three games away from home in the league and lost again at Brighton on Sunday. The match finished 2-1 in favor of Brighton and put further backlash on the under-pressure manager Arsene Wenger.
In the seven meetings they have had so far, Arsenal have been the winners 3 times while the Milanese side have won twice in the fixture. This is the only time they have seen each other in the Europa league. Before this season, they faced each other in the Champions League and the European Super Cup.
Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal, although missing last two games, could play on Thursday as per Arsene Wenger.
Laurent Koscielny will return after getting rest in the weekend and Danny Welbeck will be the primary striker with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, both unavailable for the team.
Andrea Conti and Ignazio Abate are the players expected to miss out from the squad for the Milanese side on Thursday. Mateo Musacchio will be suspended on the next booking. The team will see a familiar lineup like that in the first leg.
Key Players to Watch
Hakan Calhanoglu will certainly be the one to watch in the tie. He has been inspirational for the Milanese side this season, especially in the Europa League with 4 assists and a goal to his name in 7 games in the competition. He will be expected to give a great performance if they are to bounce back from their previous loss.
Mesut Ozil has certainly been the best player for Arsenal this season although having fewer appearances in the Europa league. He just recently became the fastest player to reach 50 assists in the Premier League and will be taking that as an inspiration in this tie. He will undoubtedly be the primary creative force in the game for Arsenal.
Arsenal vs AC Milan Lineup (Predicted XI)
Arsenal Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Def: Kolasinac, Koscielny, Mustafi, Bellerin
Def. Mid: Xhaka, Wilshere
Att. Mid: Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan
AC Milan Lineup (4-3-3)
Def: Rodriguez, Zapata, Bonucci, Calabria
Mid: Bonaventura, Biglia, Kessie
AC Milan vs Arsenal Prediction
Including the last game, the last seven meeting between these two giants have seen three wins to Arsenal, with the Milanese side winning two and two of the matches have ended in a draw.
Although the Milan are out of form recently, they look to be the better side, Arsenal showed in the first leg why they can’t ever be underestimated.
With the quality of players, Arsenal have, they will certainly look to save the tie. This will be a challenging game for Milan, and they will need a miracle or two to forward to the quarterfinals.
Our prediction: A 1-0 win to Arsenal. Arsenal advances to the quarters.