Arsenal 3-1 AC Milan (Agg 5-1)
What could have been an uncomfortable and upsetting night, proved to be a whole lot of fun in the end. So, let’s get straight into a review and some delicious player ratings:
Aside from a glorious opportunity Milan spurned within the first few moments, I thought we looked very comfortable. When our guests took the lead thanks to a great hit from Calhanoglu, I did fear it would be time for Arsenal to have on of their meltdowns. However, our reaction to that momentary setback was first class. At no point did the players let their heads drop and they dug a little deeper and immediately came back at Milan with added verve. It was really pleasing to see.
We got things back on level terms within 4 minutes thanks to a penalty converted by Danny Welbeck that was won with – let’s be honest here – a pretty sh*tty dive by Danny Welbeck. I’m not going to try and defend it, because it’s obvious for the world to see, but some of the reaction towards it was been, quite frankly, bizarre. Most notably from John Cross, who used words like ‘disgrace to English football’ and went on to further state the penalty was the key point of the tie.
That is a strange, strange thing to say given we scored 5 goals to AC Milan’s 1. I get that Cross is a dying breed of journalist that finds himself rendered obsolete by better, free content available online. I get that he has to try and say something to get noticed and his article reflected that desperation. The entirety of the piece he penned for the Mirror (I don’t link to that sh*t-rag) smacked of a man sitting in a darkened room in just his pants, drinking heavily and looking for somewhere to channel his inner turmoil. Or maybe he just wanted to get some attention. Or maybe he’s an expert troll or a parody account of himself.
It was a entertaining half and on the balance of play 1-1 at halftime was fair – even if Milan did have very right to be annoyed.
The following 45 minutes of play was very open – alarmingly so at times from an Arsenal perspective. Milan created 3 very good chances and if they’d been a little more ruthless in front of goal, we’d have had some problems. We stuck to it in the attacking third and creating some good openings of our own before Granit Xhaka’s slightly hopeful effort squirmed past Donnarumma into the net to make it 2-1. At that point, the air noticeably drained from Milan and it was game over. Welbeck’s 2nd of the night – tapped in from a rebound to the far post – was a cherry on the top in what was, all things considered, a pretty comprehensive victory.
It was also good to see Welbeck get a couple of goals as that should do his confidence the world of good.
- David Ospina (6) Not sure about his positioning for Milan’s goal.
- Hector Bellerin (6) Always wanted the ball, made decent runs.
- Nacho Monreal (7) Industrious.
- Laurent Koscielny (NA) Off after 10 minutes with back injury.
- Shkodran Mustafi (6) Let Milan players get the better of him too often.
- Aaron Ramsey (7) Everywhere. Always looks to make a positive impact.
- Granit Xhaka (8) Superb. Solid in defence, creative in attack. MOTM.
- Jack Wilshere (7) A solid performance.
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan (6) Bit off the boil, but not bad.
- Mesut Ozil (6) Bit stroppy.
- Danny Welbeck (8) Bit divey, but put in a lot of good work elsewhere. Deserved his goals.
- (Sub) Callum Chambers (7) Slotted in very well when Koscielny went off early.
- (Sub) Mohamed Elneny (6) Shored us up
- (Sub) Sead Kolasinac (NA) No time for smashing.
We went through, and we deserved to do so over the 2 legs. The scoreline reflects that. Whilst Welbeck’s dive wasn’t especially great, it had little impact on the result. Milan can have no complaints about heading out. We go into the quarter-finals with a fixture against CSKA Moscow who will be a tough proposition – trips to Russia are never easy. The fist leg is at The Emirates on April 5th with the return trip to the VEB Arena a week later.
It’s not the toughest draw we could have faced, but it’s by no means easy. The full draw is:
- Atletico Madrid vs Sporting Lisbon
- RP Leipzig vs Marseille
- Arsenal vs CSKA Moscow
- Lazio vs Salzburg
That is a very competitive line-up for the final rounds and, should we progress, we can safely assume we’ll face a stern test in the semi-finals. I have no doubts that we’re capable of winning the completion, by so are a few other teams.
That’s all for today, folks.
I’ll be back with more tomorrow. The comments await below. What are your thoughts on the performance, the Welbeck ‘incident’ and the draw for the next round? Let me know.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.
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