Arsenal Draw AcMilan In Europa League  Round Of 16

Arsenal Draw AcMilan In Europa League  Round Of 16
  • PublishedFebruary 23, 2018

Arsene Wenger’s side have reached the next round of the competition despite losing 2-1 at home against Ostersunds on Thursday evening. They won the away leg 3-0.

The Gunners were the last team drawn from the pot on Friday afternoon, meaning they will be the away side in the first leg of their tie. AC Milan also ,oved to the last-16 with a 4-0 aggregate win against Ludogorets.

The first-leg at the San Siro will take place on March 8, kicking off at 6pm UK time, while Milan travels to the Emirate a week later on march 15

Arsenal’s most recent European meeting with AC Milan saw them exit the competition with a 4-3 loss on aggregate in the 2011-2012 edition of the Champions League.

Milan are led by Gennaro Gattuso, the former midfield general who has been handed the manager’s role despite a lack of experience at the top level.

Gattuso famously clashed with then-Tottenham assistant manager Joe Jordan when his Milan side took on Spurs in the Champions League in 2011.

He headbutted the former Manchester United and Leeds player during a touchline row.

Winning the Europa League is Arsenal’s best hope of qualifying for the Champions League next season. They are currently eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League.

Even more notable was the sort of players they were signing. Leonardo Bonucci, a €42m addition from Juventus, saw them sign one of the most coveted defenders in Europe, snapping him up from a rival to boot.

It seemed as though this apparently newly moneyed side had everything going for them.

That said, doubts arose very early on about the new owners of the club and there were suggestions that the funding was not really there. Bonucci’s transfer was temporarily held up and there was a delay in him making his debut as a result.

But it was still a shock when they were heavily off the pace by the end of November. A 0-0 draw against Torino meant they were 18 points behind leaders Napoli and had no hope of challenging them.

That ended Vincenzo Montella’s time in the dugout. He was quickly replaced by Gennaro Gattuso.

Absolutely. The former Milan midfielder was in charge of the club’s Primavera youth team when he was given the call.

Known more for his fury than any coaching nous, he left Pisa twice in the space of a year. He also tendered his resignation while in charge of Crete and left Sion, the first club he managed, after just four months.

This is not, on paper, the manager to lead you to a Champions League berth.

He has played Giacomo Bonaventura, which is different to Montella. His use of four at the back in some games has made Milan more solid.

And his manner on the touchline means they have been given a bounce — Montella was a bit disconnected from on-field matters.

In a surprising choice, Fabio Borini has been given a chance up front, rather than as a left wing-back. That has worked for Milan.

In the main, though, he has been picking many of the same players that his predecessor did. And they are in the same position they were under Montella — seventh.

Gattuso is well-aware that he demands a lot of his players and spends a lot of time screaming at them.

So he has come up with an unconventional way of motivating them after a good result. The club legend stands in the middle of the team and allows his players to slap him on the head.

His explanation? ‘I do it to make the players happy.

‘There are one or two who won’t get into the team, and so they start to look at me funny.

‘In that moment there, they have the chance to give me a clip round the ear.

‘I go and stand in the middle of the huddle and that way I make sure no one tries to hit me in the changing room.’

It has been decent while not being particularly spectacular.

They have not lost a game since December, a run of 11 games without defeat for the San Siro club.

And they have won each of their last four games, including tricky away visits to Spal and Ludogorets.

But, as mentioned before, it has not been good enough to see them climb up the league under Gattuso. It is, though, more solid than Europa League opponents Arsenal.

Patrick Cutrone, who made his debut at the end of last season, has impressed after being given opportunities. The 20-year-old striker has scored five goals in his 18 games. A double against Spal earlier this month has upped his reputation even further.

Giacomo Bonaventura has been restored to the starting line-up under Gattuso. The 28-year-old midfielder repaid the manager’s faith with a winning goal against Sampdoria.

Suso, the former Liverpool winger, has flattered to deceive since joining Milan. But he has been in excellent form under Gattuso, scoring a stunning long-range against Udinese.

Gianluigi Donnarumma was one of the best young players in Europe last season but has struggled under the weight of pressure this time out. Has feuded with the Milan fans amid suggestions he’s keen to leave the San Siro.

Ricardo Rodriguez cost the club €17m in the summer, arriving as one of Europe’s most coveted left-backs. He has not lived up to his reputation and has only played in two of the last four games.

Lucas Biglia is another player who came in with a big reputation. Has not been up to his usual level, providing no assists all season and scoring just once.

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