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UEFA Champions League

  • 15 February 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
  • Referee: V. Kassai
  • • Attendance: 64462
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AC Milan - Arsenal Preview: Thierry Henry set for San Siro climax in mouth-watering Champions League clash

If the on-loan striker, who scored the winner against Sunderland on Saturday, features in this first-leg last-16 tie it will mark his final game in a Gunners shirt


PROBABLE LINEUPS

AC MILAN

Abbiati
Abate, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Mesbah
Ambrosini, Van Bommel, Nocerino
Boateng
Ibrahimovic, Robinho
ARSENAL

Szczesny
Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs
Arteta, Song, Ramsey
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Van Persie, Walcott

Alessandro Nesta has resumed full training for AC Milan but is not expected to be rushed back for the match, as is the case with Kevin Prince-Boateng and Alexandre Pato too. Maxi Lopez could fill the hole behind the front two in the 4-3-1-2 formation favoured by AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri, although Clarence Seedorf or Emanuelson have the potential to also slot into the midfield. Liverpool loanee Alberto Aquilani is still out injured and will play not part at the San Siro on Wednesday.

Mark van Bommel and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were unavailable through suspension in the team’s last Serie A game but should be in the starting line-up against Arsenal. Ibrahimovic could step in for promising young Serie A striker Stephan El Shaarawy, who scored for Milan this weekend in their away win against Udinese; or he could be picked to start up front in place of ex-Manchester City forward Robinho. Antonio Cassano is still out of action for the Italian giants after undergoing heart surgery in November 2011.

Arsenal head to Italy without defender Per Mertesacker, who picked up an ankle injury in this weekend’s Premier League win over Sunderland. Kieran Gibbs could see a speedy return from injury as a result, with Thomas Vermaelen shifted back into centre-back where he is most comfortable. Aaron Ramsey started on the bench on Saturday and is likely to be drafted into the side’s 4-3-3 formation in place of Tomas Rosicky.

Abou Diaby is out with a muscle problem, Carl Jenkinson remains absent with a stress fracture in his back and Jack Wilshere is yet to make an appearance for the Gunners this season with a persistent ankle injury. Brazilian Andre Santos is over a month away from returning after surgery on his ankle and Thierry Henry is unlikely to make the starting eleven but could feature in the San Siro showdown in the second half if he is fully fit. Gervinho is unlikely to feature after losing the African Cup of Nations final on Sunday – the Ivory Coast national team were defeated on penalties after a 0-0 draw against Zambia.




DID YOU KNOW?
  • Arsenal qualified for the last-16 top of their group but with just two points between them (on 11) and Olympiakos in third (on nine). The Greek side beat the north London club 3-1 in the last set of matches for the group, but Marseille’s extraordinary comeback away to Borussia Dortmund from 2-0 down to 3-2 up sent the French side through instead.
  • Milan’s route to the knock-out stages of the Champions League was not as close a call but not as successful either. The Italian side held reigning champions Barcelona to a draw at the Nou Camp in their first match of the group stage, but they had to settle for second place behind the Catalonian giants.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic (pictured right) has had 10 attempts on target so far this tournament – Robin van Persie is the highest placed Gunner with one less than him on nine.
  • Arsenal were the first club to beat AC Milan at the San Siro when Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor scored in this stage of the Champions League four years ago to win 2-0.
  • AC Milan are currently perched at the top of Serie A, having overhauled Juventus. However, they have played two more matches than the Turin giants whom they hold a two-point lead over.
  • The Gunners, on the other hand, are fourth in the Premier League, but they are the highest-placed club in the top flight that are still in the Champions League (Chelsea, who face Napoli in the last-16, are below them on goal difference in fifth).
  • Milan midfielder Antonio Nocerino has been fouled 19 times in European competition this season, the third most of all players.
  • Both clubs were knocked out at the last-16 stage last campaign – the Italian club at the hands of bitter Arsenal rivals Tottenham, while the Gunners were shown the door by Barcelona
  • Robin van Persie has scored seven goals in his last six games and team-mate Thierry Henry has scored three goals in his six appearances under Arsene Wenger since the start of his loan spell in early January.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
32Christian AbbiatiGoalkeeper
5Philippe MexesDefender
20Ignazio AbateDefender
4Thiago SilvaDefender
3Luca AntoniniDefender
17Mark van BommelMidfielder
-Antonio NocerinoMidfielder
9Kevin-Prince BoatengMidfielder
10Zlatan IbrahimovicStriker
-RobinhoStriker
14Marco AmeliaGoalkeeper
13Alessandro NestaDefender
25Daniele BoneraDefender
13Massimo AmbrosiniMidfielder
8Urby EmanuelsonMidfielder
9Alexandre PatoStriker
92Stephan El ShaarawyStriker
1Wojciech SzczesnyGoalkeeper
3Bacary SagnaDefender
5Thomas VermaelenDefender
6Laurent KoscielnyDefender
28Kieran GibbsDefender
7Tomas RosickyMidfielder
8Mikel ArtetaMidfielder
16Aaron RamseyMidfielder
17Alex SongMidfielder
20Robin van PersieStriker
14Theo WalcottStriker
21Lukasz FabianskiGoalkeeper
5Johan DjourouDefender
10Andrey ArshavinMidfielder
30Yossi BenayounMidfielder
35Francis CoquelinMidfielder
15Alex Oxlade-ChamberlainStriker
14Thierry HenryStriker
Players to Watch
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
He flopped in his short time at Barcelona, but the Swedish striker has been resurgent since returning to Serie A last season. He has scored 21 goals this campaign to already equal his total for last season when he joined the rivals of his former club Inter.

The forward will be fresh for the Gunners clash too, having missed the match at Udinese on Sunday through suspension. Whether he is flanked by talented-but-inconsistent Brazilian attacker Robinho or 19-year-old striking sensation Stephan El Shaarawy remains to be seen; regardless who is playing alongside the often-overrated but never-to-be-underestimated front man, Ibrahimovic will likely steal the spotlight.

Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 14
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0

Who else? The Arsenal legend – one of the greatest strikers to ever play for the north London club – is set for a climax at the San Siro on the back of securing the Gunners a stoppage-time win at Sunderland on Saturday. He is not even in the expected starting line-up but the former Barcelona forward has the potential to come on and dazzle travelling fans.

His short-term loan from New York Red Bulls ends after this Champions League clash and it could end up being the last time the French forward ever appears for his beloved boss Arsene Wenger. Robin van Persie is unquestionably the world class striker in the squad, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has pundits searching for new superlatives to describe his performances; but even a substitute appearance holds so much hope for the Arsenal faithful. Thierry Henry debut this season began with a bang, when he came off the bench to secure a fourth-round place in the FA Cup against Leeds United and don’t rule out a fairytale ending to his brief loan spell for one of Europe’s finest ever forwards.

Prediction
The Gunners have hardly been in fine form but a spirited victory away at the weekend should put the wind in this side’s sails. AC Milan will be no pushovers, however, and their wealth of attacking options will likely prove tough for a defence that is far from famed for its ability to keep clean sheets.

The Italians have been in a bit of a slump of late but an away win against Udinese at the weekend should soften the streak of poor form. Should Robin van Persie or Arsenal legend Thierry Henry find that single spark of magic they need though, a win for Arsene Wenger’s men could be on the cards this Wednesday.
Editor's Prediction

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