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



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

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.

  • 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.