Milan v Arsenal: Europa League last-16 first leg – live!

Milan v Arsenal: Europa League last-16 first leg – live!

08-Mar-2018 18:24:46 | The Guardian

21 min: Ozil has looked properly up for this so far. Not only has he passed with his customary astuteness, he’s been energetic off the ball and even quite muscular in possession. It’s as if he’s been given a blast of the famous Arsene Wenger hairdryer.

19 min: Superb play down the left by Kolisnac - a Zidane turn, if you please, followed by a dainty pass to Welbeck. The move comes to nought but it was further evidence of the attacking threat posed by Kolasinac, who hsa been ever-eager to raid down the left so far.

17 min: Calabria is down injured so t here is a break in play.

15 min: Ozil was the creator of that goal, clipping a fine first-time pass to Mkhitaryan n the left-hand side of the box. Mkhitaryan cut inside past Calabria and then fired off a shot that deflected off Bonucci and flew into the net. It was so well struck that it might have gone in anyway.

A fierce deflected shot gives the Armenian his first goal for Arsenal, who have a valuable away goal!

13 min: Arsenal are split open again by a low pass from deep. Calhanoglu races through to receive it. Ospina charges out to intercept at the edge of the box and hurls himself at the forward’s feet. Calhanoglu hurdles him but can’t reach the ball before it runs out of play. If he hadn’t taken evasive action, he’d have been clattered by the keeper and been given a penalty!

11 min: Mustafi goes walkabout in the box, leaving Cutrone free to receive a pass. The striker seems to stunned that he rushes his shot, bogging a weak and wonky 10-yard shot wide. This is a very open game and both teams look vulnerable/capable of scoring.

9 min: Nice play again from Arsenal, especially by Wilshere. He drove between two players and flipped the ball off to Ozil, who fizzed it on to Mkhitaryan. The shot - or was it a cross? - from the edge of the area is blocked

8 min: Wilshere makes a canny dart from deep into the area and is picked out by Ozil. With several defenders in front of him he feeds the ball back to Mkhitaryan, who cracks a low shot from 12 yards into the sidenetting.

6 min: Biglia plays a blind pass straight to Welbeck in the centre circle. The striekr lays it back for Wilshere, whose pass also goes astray. But after a bracing testing start, Arsenal are starting to looking more comfortable now.

4 min: Chambers makes a good interception to bring an end to constant pressure by Milan. Then he swaps passes with Wilshere and careers down the right wing, picking out Welbeck near the penalty spot with a low pass. But Welbeck fails to get it under control and the ball runs to a defender, who clears.

3 min: A cross is whipped in from the right wing. Cutrone flicks it on at the near post, and Bonaventura flings himself towards it at the back post but just fails to connect.

2 min: Ramsey is harassed by Cutrone into giving up possession inside his own half. The forward scurries down the left before sending in a cross that is put behind for a corner. An early indication there of Milan’s dynamism and aggression. Arsenal are going to have to match that, at least.

1 min: we have go! Milan get the game under way and begin cirulating the ball patiently.

Kickoff is preceded by an impeccably-observed minute’s silence for the late Davide Astori, followed by warm applause.

Milan are wearing their traditional black and red stripes and white shorts. Arsenal are clad all in blue in what looks like the sort of kit Shakin’ Stevens would have worn if he’d been a footballer.

Here comes the teams! The San Siro is crammed and buoyant, which is not always the case these days. If the players rise to the atmosphere, we could be in for a belter.

“I’m hoping that the TV director will ignore what’s happening on the pitch (which we can all more or less glumly predict anyway) and keep Gennaro Gattuso in tight focus throughout,” parps Charles Antaki. “He’s likely to be more entertaining than at least one of the teams actually playing.” You know what - and I know this is a controversial view - I think Gattuso could have taken Joe Jordan that night b...

“Regarding Koscielny’s mention of the Downward Spiral, it is amazing how many Nine Inch Nail album titles describe Arsenal at the moment,” bangs Paul Cockford on a piece of disused industrial apparatus. “Broken, the Fragile, Hesitation Marks ... perhaps today the will play With Teeth, otherwise it will be Closer to the End for Wenger.”

Arsenal have some injury problems - Bellerin, Monreal and Lacazette among the absentees - but Wenger can give a first start in this tournament this season to Koscileny and Ramsey.

Milan: G Donnarumma; Calabria, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Calhanoglu; Cutrone, Suso

Hello and welcome. Do you believe in happy endings? That’s what most people wish for Arsène Wenger: and this season’s Europa League looks to be his last chance to arrange one. The form guide does not give much cause for optimism – Milan are on a 12-match unbeaten streak while Arsenal have lost four games on the trot and, according to Laurent Koscielny, feel ensnared in a “downward spiral”. But when the going gets tough, great teams get going so, um, let’s see how Arsenal get on. Keeping the tie alive for the second leg would is as minimum requirements if we’re to be treated to the sight of Wenger ending this season - and perhaps his Arsenal career - by lifting a European trophy, a feat he has not yet managed in his epic career. Eliminating the seven-times European champions on the way would make it all the sweeter.

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