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Match Preview: AC Milan look to stun Gunners in second leg of Europa League

The situation seems bleak, but hope remains

AC Milan v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Yes, there is hope. Hope for Gennaro Gattuso’s rock solid resolve and ability to unify a team and raise spirits from the bowels of defeat to belief in the impossible. Hope for a Milan squad that has been reinvented and reinvigorated by the inspiring play from Patrick Cutrone, Suso, and Giacomo Bonaventura. Hope that Arsenal have already discounted Milan, unaware of the fire that’s been burning, a desire to strike back and prove to themselves, no, the footballing world, that Milan is no longer a figment of the past, but a team deserving of recognition on a global scale.

Gattuso had this to say about Milan’s odds for tomorrow...

We know it will be difficult, but we’re born ready. This is football and there is nothing more beautiful than to overturn the odds and make history. Tomorrow’s match will be different. We will give our all because it’s our dream, but we know we’ll have to play a perfect match. We are not a team that makes every opportunity count. We do well to arrive in the final third but we don’t always finish the right way. We are doing better but we still have to improve...

There isn’t a single Rossonero that isn’t aware of what’s on the line in tomorrow’s match at the Emirates. Arsenal, despite disappointing in the Premier League and lacking some key players due to injury and competition laws, have had a good run in the Europa League thus far. A difficult lesson learned when the Gunners visited AC Milan at San Siro, grabbing two goals and winning the first battle.

However, the war is not yet won, and there is still ninety minutes of football to be played.

Key Players for Milan

Franck Kessie needs to be better. He felt the sting of disappointment immediately following the whistle. It’s strange for a player who has been massively integral to the success of this team in big games, to come up so empty and lost in the first leg. I’m not sure if it was the occasion or if Kessie was just due for a bad match. As today’s theme dictates, I’m hoping for the latter.

Patrick Cutrone/Andre Silva/Nikola Kalinic. Cutrone was another victim of the headlights effect. Arsenal, whose defense has been more than suspect all year long found a way to keep the young phenom silenced for two halves, largely proving to be ineffective. Rino very well might opt to start the hot foot (head) of Andre Silva or turn to the more veteran striker in Kalinic. There has even been talk of switching formation to a 4-4-2, and starting two strikers, in which case we’d probably see a combination of Cutrone and Silva up front.

Roster & Predicted Lineups

GOALKEEPERS: A. Donnarumma, G. Donnarumma, Storari

DEFENDERS: Bonucci, Musacchio, Rodriguez, Romagnoli, Zapata

MIDFIELDERS: Biglia, Bonaventura, Calhanoglu, Kessie, Locatelli, Montolivo

FORWARDS: Borini, Cutrone, Kalinic, André Silva, Suso.

Milan Injuries: Davide Calabria has been ruled out late with Andrea Conti and veteran defender Ignazio Abate still nursing injuries.

Milan Lineup

Again, we could be looking at a complete switch in formation to accommodate for a more attacking front, given our struggles in the first leg. If Rino does go with a 4-4-2 it would have a massive impact on the midfield, and I’m not sure he’s ready to do that, when the 4-3-3 has been working for the squad, sans Arsenal. I think Gattuso sticks with his guns here, yet I’m willing to bet he rewards Silva for his last minute heroics against Genoa.

Arsenal Injuries/Missing: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang won’t be available for selection due to his involvement in European play with former club, Borussia Dortmund. Santi Cazorla and Alexandre Lacazette are both unavailable due to injury.

Arsenal Lineup


AC Milan will win tomorrow. Will it be large enough of a margin to put the Rossoneri through to the next round is a totally different question. At the risk of stating the obvious, Milan desperately need to see their name on the board early. The longer the match gets drawn out, and Arsene Wenger will want to slow the game down to a crawl, the more anxiety will build for the young Milanisti.

I’m buying into hope, hell, I’m all in. The dismayed attitude and angry disposition displayed on the faces of Milan players days after the first leg loss, will have our lads firing out onto the pitch, ready to prove their worth to the opposition, to the fans, and far more importantly, to themselves.

3-0 Milan