Arsenal's best bet at reaching the Champions League appears to be by winning the Europa League, but it meets an AC Milan side in sizzling form.

By 90Min
March 07, 2018

AC Milan host Arsenal in the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday evening, and will be hoping to capitalize on their poor run of form and put one foot into the quarterfinals of the competition.

In contrast to Arsenal, AC Milan are on fine form. They are unbeaten in their last six games, and will be full of confidence going into this home tie.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have lost each of their last four games, the first time they have succumbed to that many consecutive defeats since Arsene Wenger joined the club in 1996.


Classic Encounter

Milan romped to a 4-0 victory when they hosted Arsenal back in 2012. Kevin-Prince Boateng struck to give Milan the lead, before a double from Robinho saw Milan find themselves 3-0 up and Arsenal's European hopes were left in tatters.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic added insult to injury from the penalty, inflicting one of Arsenal's heaviest European defeats ever.

In the second leg in North London, Arsenal looked on course for a stunning comeback as they fired home three first-half goals to reduce the aggregate score to 4-3.

Goals from Laurent Koscielny and Tomas Rosicky, and a Robin van Persie penalty, saw the Gunners go into the break 3-0 ahead on the night. However, they couldn't manage to add to their tally in the second half and were knocked out of the competition by a 4-3 aggregate scoreline.


Key Battles

Patrick Cutrone vs Laurent Koscielny

In-form Milan striker Patrick Cutrone is likely to lead the line for Milan. He will be looking to continue his European goal scoring run, having netted six times in 11 European games this season.

The 6ft 2in striker, who is still just 20-years-old, will face a stern test against Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny. The experienced Frenchman has 50 caps for his country and has played for Arsenal on 317 occasions since joining in 2010.

Mesut Özil vs Lucas Biglia

Arsenal will look to Özil to be their creative outlet in the centre of the park, as they look to control Milan's three-man midfield. The German international has a fantastic creative flair and can break defensive lines with ease, when his mind is in the right place.

Milan will look to counter him by playing Lucas Biglia in a holding midfield role, picking up Ozil's runs, intercepting passes between their defensive and midfield lines; and screening his back four.

Biglia has cemented his place in Milan's midfield, and executes this role well. It will make for an interesting battle on Thursday evening.


Team News

After resting some key players for the Premier League defeat at Brighton, Arsenal will return to full strength for this Europa League tie.

This will mean returns to the side for right back Hector Bellerin and midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

However, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nacho Monreal are all unavailable for Arsenal. 

Sead Kolašinac could come in for Monreal, while Danny Welbeck is set to be given a chance up front.

Meanwhile, Milan will be without Luca Antonelli, Ignazio Abate and Andrea Conti through injury. They have all of their first choice players available, as they look to continue their winning run and deepen Arsenal's woes.


Prediction

Mentality is a huge part of football, particularly at the top level. the two teams' respective form will have a big impact in the momentum of this game. 

Milan's attacking quarters can find vulnerabilities in the Arsenal system, as they look to inflict a fifth successive defeat on the Gunners.

Cutrone, particularly, is on hot form and Wenger's men are under extreme pressure on the continental stage.

Prediction: Arsenal 1-0 AC Milan

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