Andrey Arshavin: I wanted Arsenal to draw AC Milan in Champions League

The Russian forward is anticipating a "nice atmosphere" at San Siro on Wednesday night but is aware that there will be a difficult tactical challenge nonetheless

Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin has revealed that he was hoping to face AC Milan before the two clubs were drawn together in the first knockout round of the Champions League.

The Gunners are set to do battle with the Italian giant at San Siro on Wednesday night in the first leg of the tie and the Russian is expecting a difficult contest.

“Before the draw I wanted AC Milan, I don't know why,” he told the club’s official website. “Maybe just because it is a nice atmosphere when we play teams like this and you are more excited to play. I like that we have them.

“To be honest I did not see them for a long time in any matches, I just know the players who are playing there. I think from an attacking side they have a lot of different players like [Alexandre] Pato, Robinho, and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, who are all dangerous.

“I think you have to be more focused, yes,” he added of the challenge of facing a side from Serie A. Against all Italian teams it is difficult to play because they are all very tactical. All Italian football is like that. They do not give you a lot of space, they try to close down and put a lot of pressure on you in the middle.”

The 30-year-old attacker memorably scored the winner when Arsenal sank Spanish titan Barcelona at home in the same stage of last year’s tournament, although Pep Guardiola’s side went on to recover and win the cup, and Arshavin expects Barca to have a strong chance of victory once more.

“Barcelona are still favorites I think but the rest of the teams have similar chance,” he observed. “I was happy because I scored last season. We were 1-0 down and we had to break down Barcelona. The boss took a risk and left six or seven offensive players on, and if you take a risk you drink champagne.

“I think every player wants to be on the stage like this.”

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