Arsenal-Milan report and reaction

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Arsenal put in an excellent performance at home to AC Milan in their Champions League first-leg clash but did not get the result they deserved after being held to a scoreless draw by the Italian club. The home side put a huge amount of pressure on the Champions League holders but were eventually frustrated after missing a number of good chances, the clearest of which a last-minute header from Emmanuel Adebayor that crashed against the crossbar.

I watched this one at home and was thrilled to have company in the shape of my new roommate – Anita – who agreed to get up nice and early with me (5.30am in Australia) to add some moral support. Not exactly the biggest football fan in the world, Anita did happen to grow an affection towards Olympique Lyonnais – and Juninho in particular – during some time spent in France and to my astonishment knew a few of the players in the Arsenal side (“Isn’t that the German goalkeeper from the World Cup?”). Needless to say, I was pretty stoked.

Adebayor hits the crossbar with the last play of the game

While it’s probably not that big a deal to most of you who read the blog to hear of a female supporter who is not only interested in European football but also knows a little bit about it, in Australia it’s something of rarity. Indeed, I may just have found the perfect roommate – I of course say that with the greatest deal of respect to my other roommate Antony, who lay fast asleep in his room while Anita and I sipped tea and cheered on the Arsenal boys. I promised Anita that it would be a great game and even despite the lack of goals by the end she agreed that it was. I guess the evidence came through the fact that she did not fall back asleep at any time.

Arsenal were dominant throughout the match and created more than enough chances to win the game. But the goal never came and now Arsene Wenger and his side will travel to Italy with the knowledge that a loss will put them out, while a score-draw or win will see them through. Rather than go through all the events of the match, as many other Arsenal blogs have done already, I thought I’d go through the some of the key moments and observations I took out of the match.

  • Overall, a great performance by the team. Would have won the game had it not been for the less-than-perfect finishing and a couple of poor final passes.
  • The only real clear-cut chance was Emmanuel Adebayor’s header.
  • Biggest missed opportunities were Adebayor and Emmanuel Eboue’s overhit final towards the end of each half. A better pass by Adebayor in a particular would have allowed a tap-in for Cesc Fabregas.
  • Eboue incident not a penalty. It may have been had he not dived so extravagantly.
  • Mathieu Flamini was outstanding, while Alexandr Hleb and Fabregas clicked into gear early in the second half but then faded a little bit towards the end.
  • Philippe Senderos and William Gallas were magnificent. The pace of Europe seems to suit Senderos a great deal more than the quicker Premiership.
  • Fabregas’ balls over the top to Adebayor were a deliberate and effective idea. They will ensure Milan are made to keep guessing about how Arsenal will play the second leg.
  • Having to defend more may even suit us away from home. Carlo Ancelotti will be very wary of Arsenal and it could be a very similar game again.
  • The team did more than enough to suggest that they can get the result they need at the San Siro.

Fabregas still believes Arsenal can qualify against MilanConfidence still high 

It all added up to a disappointing result despite an excellent performance by Wenger’s side. However, as my last point stresses, they are very much still in this tie. Indeed, Arsenal are virtually in the same position that Manchester United were in following their 3-2 first-leg win over Milan in last year’s competition: needing to draw or win at the San Siro to qualify. Unlike Manchester United – who were shorn of two first-choice defenders and had to rush Nemajnda Vidic back into the side – I feel Arsenal have the defensive qualities required to stop Milan swinging the tie their way by grabbing a goal. The longer the game stays goalless at the San Siro the more likely Arsenal will go through and if the entire backline is fit and Flamini is available then I think it’s a job that can be done. 

Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that the failure to win the match has affected the players too much. Indeed, both Adebayor and Fabregas were positive about their side’s chances of getting the result they require to knock Milan out of the competition. The former revealed his determination to make amends for his late miss on Wednesday night while the latter spoke of his delight with the performance against Milan despite the reward of a goal. 

“We are a positive side, we are young but, having seen what we have seen tonight, we can cope with their pace, their experience and we can create chances. If we can score a goal I think we have a good opportunity to go through.”

And he’s absolutely right. As I said before, if Arsenal score then Milan need two and given the way that the boys have been performing defensively of late – the Manchester debacle aside – I would back them to go through, even despite the fact that neither Robin van Persie nor Kolo Toure look like they will be available for the match. Many supporters were expecting van Persie to play some part in the second leg but Wenger has since revealed that he is in no hurry to rush the Dutchman back. On a more positive note, it seems that the calf injury that Toure sustained against Milan on Wednesday was not as serious as first expected, yet the Ivorian is still expected to spend at least two weeks on the sideline.

On a final note I just want to say how extremely proud I was of the boys performance against Milan. After the embarrassing result against United the team needed to put up a good fight and they did just that, playing Milan off the park despite getting the result their performance deserved. I think most supporters will agree that it’s going to be an incredibly tight second leg but after Wenger’s side’s effort in the first leg I’m quietly confident that they will get through. And so, incidentally, is Anita.

 That’s about it for today. If you haven’t already done so make sure you enter O2’s Arsenal Opus competition for a chance to win your own copy of the epic Arsenal Opus book signed by Arsene Wenger. It’s a great prize that you can win simply by voting for your favourite Arsenal photo from a collection of 11 selected by Wenger himself. Good luck!

What do you think?

Have your say on the Arsenal-Milan match by leaving a comment.


17 thoughts on “Arsenal-Milan report and reaction

  1. Great article. We’re definitely still in this one. I think Walcott proved to be a great sub and he probably deserved more time out there. I think the conditioning of the AC Milan team could play a big part in this tie. We definitely showed our fitness and I think Walcott could be used again as a late sub in the second leg to really exploit their age and stamina. I’m not sure what is going on with Eduardo, but he seems to get lost alot up there. It would be a site to sore eyes to see VP back on pitch one of these days but it seems unlikely that he’ll be fit for the second leg tie. I’d be happy just to see him on the bench for that game. I’m not completely sold on Eboue playing in the midfield. He still plays very much like a right back, and it shows on his finishing touch. I hope you all are as excited about this second leg as I am. I think we have a very good chance of getting that goal…for now, let’s get those six points.

  2. Bugger…. just read Wenger’s comments reering to Van Persie. I was fortunate enough to see the last 10 minutes live (I slept in a bit, same thing almost happened to 2006 WC final..)Anyway, I saw the Ade header, and i am STILL CONFUSED why it didn’t go in. Aargh… oh well, with another performance like that @ San Siro, and some good performances in the league, i think were going to the next round!!


  3. SF-Your roomate Antony should be ashamed of himself for not watching the footy with you. Hat off to Anita. Please Anita if you are reading this forget about Olympique Lyonnais and join the gunners we play beautiful football to charm the ladies if you want a Brazilian we have 2 in the squad so from now on you are a Gunneress. Sf-make sure you get her a Shirt. I was very disappointed in the way Milan played had they attacked it would’ve been a classic .Seedorf admitted that they were very lucky to get away with a nil-nil draw this what he said: “It’s a very good result for us. They most probably deserved something. We were lucky to get away with it,” Seedorf won the thing 3 times, for him to say this he must’ve witnessed some great pressure from the way we played. Milan have home advantage but if we score they’ll be in big trouble it means they will have to come out more to score 2 goals and that when we are deadly. At the moment Its still in the balance.

  4. I think we did not show to Milan and Europe the way we play football as we always do; I think we were a little bit too shy facing the Europe and World Champions, especially on the flanks: Bac Sagna started to attack only after the 30th minute in the first half, while Gael Clichy waited the the second half to start helping Eduardo on the left flank; Cesc shooted two or three times but not as dangerously as he often does; Adebayor was amazing even if he missed THAT goal, he was alone against defenders like Kaladze and Nesta; Eduardo has been a phantom, hopefully for the second leg Tomas Rosicky will be fit and we will be more dangerous on the left.
    Hleb and Flamini had both an outstandig performance I think, our Flattuso where everywhere, attacking or defending while Alex created a lot of chances and limited Pirlo very well with a brilliant pressing.
    I am confident for the retour match, but like Arsene said we cannot bring our fantastic field with us, it will be a problem; San Siro has an awful field, it will be hard to play with skill and pace.
    There’s a man over the ocean that said always this:

  5. I think the game is finely balanced. Milan are not crayz to go all out attack, because they know 1 away goal for us will be deadly. It will be like a chess game. One wrong move will decide the tie.
    that said i cannot see ud drawing another blank.
    We will score eventually. I just hope we dont concede more than we score.
    Im optimistic even thoug Im a pessimist

  6. I just saw a poll on espnsoccernet where 59% of some 80,000 people thought that Arsenal were the most likely of the four english clubs to get knocked out of the champions league after the latest results. That’s just crazy. We completely outplayed Milan in every way. Except finishing…
    Milan were never in the game because even though they did pick up some good possession at times, they did nothing with it. Who saw Flamini on Kaka every time he got the ball? I did. Who saw Senderos absolutely crush Pato whenever the ball came near him? Me. And as for Seedorf and Pirlo – are they meant to be the other creative-minded players in the side? Cause they defended all game…
    Arsenal will go through as long as we maintain our best midfield pairing of Flamini and Fabregas. I very much agree with the sentiment that we need the little frenchman in the starting line-up to beat the best teams in the world. Who would have thought Flamini would be such an integral part of the team this season?
    I have the honesty to say “Not I”. But I am now very happy to see that he has stepped up.

  7. decent result imo.

    in other news, i think RvP’s extended recovery is not just to play it safe, but possibly so he can be used intensively to finish strong at the end of the season.

  8. Eduardo broke his leg I’m Very sad for him.What a horrific injury.I wish him a quick recovery.As for the thug taylor needs to be dealt with properly a red card is not enough.
    There is only one way to describe Adebayor SELFISH, SELFISH SELFISH. All he had to do was to pass the ball to Bendtner to tap it in for the 3rd goal instead he tried to bend it around the keeper like Henry.He needs to understand he is not Henry.Had he passed the ball to Bendtner it would’ve been 3-1.Not a good day today.

  9. owww man!

    “The injury is the result of a very bad tackle that is not forgivable. The first diagnosis is that the injury is very bad. He appears to have broken his shin and his fibula.”


  10. Taylor shouldnt be allowed to play the rest of this season. The “if you cant play with Arsenal, kick Arsenal” attitude in the league needs to be punished or more of our players will be hurt. I dont think Taylor meant to hurt Eduardo but an example needs to be made of someone, besides he shouldnt be on a pitch unless he learns how to tackle. The game in the second wasnt that bad for Arsenal.. the refs got it completely wrong on both giving them a freekick which shouldnt have ben given that lead to a goal.. and theres no way that was a penalty. The refs in the Chelsea/Liverpool game earlier were punished for bad calls… this shouldnt be any different.

  11. I had a look at the replay its horrific ITS A CRIME. I’m so upset about this. Eduardo worked so hard to get where he is now and was looking foward to euro2008 and here comes this thug and end it.this “Didn’t mean to hurt him” business is non sense.He knew exactly what he was doing. I’m so annoyed how the media played it down. Despite what went against us in this match a free kick that never was and the penalty was very harsh.But what I’m upset about is Eduardo’s carrier threatening break. Gallas’s reaction at end of the game was stupid he threw a tantrum as if we lost the title he should’ve picked himself up and show that he is not effected by all that went on in this cursed game.Its not over. What we need now is Van Persie to come back and left the squad.
    I’m absolutely distraught about what happened to EDUARDO.

  12. The injury to Eduardo was caused not by a bad tackle, but a poor 2nd touch from the Arsenal player which invited the tackle. Anyone who watches the incident properly will see his ‘poor’ 2nd touch took the ball slighlty away from him & invited Taylor to make the tackle. Eduardo’s speed to get to the ball first then caused Taylor to catch his leg. Taylor is not at fault & it’s only the dipsticks that blame him. It’s pretty simple if you understand the game and just as the professionals have said it was accidental & did not deserve a red card. The Arsenal fans just need to shut up & support their team.

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