AC Milan V Arsenal: 10 Bold Predictions for Champions League Tie
Wednesday 15th February sees Arsenal travel to the San Siro for the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie.
Arsenal will be looking to keep the scores close and perhaps grab an away goal, whilst Milan will be hoping to press upon their home-field advantage.
With the winner over two legs claiming a place in the quarterfinals, the tensions will run high and the passion will run deep.
The financial aspect of getting through to the next round is worth €3.3 million to the winning club, so there's lot's at stake.
Here, we'll look at some bold predictions for the exciting clash.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Could Start
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's impressive training and cameo performances for Arsenal have resulted in him starting the last four league games for the London club.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is a star in the making and could really make an impact against AC Milan if he is given the chance to impress.
Gennaro Gattuso Will Keep It Clean
Gennaro Gattuso will finally clean up his act and manage to get through this Champions League tie without fouling anybody, without shouting at his own players, without arguing with the referee and without getting himself a yellow card.
That's just a bit of fun and clearly not going to happen.
Van Persie Won't Score
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Having been prolific in the Premier League for Arsenal, Van Persie has managed three Champions League goals this season in his five appearances for the club.
With Milan conscientious of conceding an away goal, Van Persie may find his opportunities limited if the Italian team decide to try and shut up shop.
Being one of Europe's most prolific marksmen means you garner extra attention, and I wouldn't be surprised to see RVP come away without a goal in this one.
Arsenal Will Score 2
Despite AC Milan not wanting to concede an away goal in this first leg tie, the forward play of Arsenal will be too much for them to handle, and Arsenal will snatch two goals in this game.
If they do, it will leave AC Milan a lot of work to do in a fortnight's time when they visit the Emirates Stadium and give Arsene Wengers team control of the tie.
El Shaaraway to Make His Debut
Similar to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Stephan El Shaaraway is another youngster tipped for big things hoping to make his Champions League debut.
Fresh from scoring the winning goal against Udinese at the weekend, the mohawk-sporting youngster will be looking to cement a first-team place for the Rossineri and will be keen to get some minutes on the pitch.
Arsenal's defence could find him hard to handle.
Thierry Henry Will Score
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With the Frenchman being set to return to parent club New York Red Bulls on the 16th of February, Henry will be looking to go out with a bang in his last game for the club.
Would you really bet against him scoring as a parting gift? If Arsenal score two as predicted, Henry will claim at least one of them.
Andrei Arshavin Will Find Some Form
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He knows he should be playing better for the club, but coming off the bench for 15 minutes a week isn't going to help matters.
When on form, Arshavin is capable of the sublime, and Wenger might favour him for his experience over the young Oxlade-Chamberlain.
If he does, then Arshavin may take the opportunity to remind the Gunners why he was once so highly thought of.
Milan Will Struggle for a Good Result
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I can't see Milan winning this game despite being the home side, and they will have to work hard to get a good result against the Gunners.
With one of my earlier slides predicting Arsenal scoring at twice in the game, Milan will be looking to show some attacking flair themselves, which could be their downfall.
Arsenal are the kings of the counter attack, and Milan could discover that the hard way.
Arsenal Could Put the Tie to Bed Early
If Arsenal come out and play the type of football like they did against Blackburn Rovers a few weeks ago, Milan may find themselves staring at a Champions League exit before the second leg even comes around.
Whilst no tie is truly over until the whistle is blown, Arsenal have the opportunity and more importantly the capability to do some real damage at the San Siro.
Milan Will Also Get on the Scoresheet
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With Zlatan Ibrahimovic in fine league goal-scoring form, Arsenal may struggle to keep Milan from scoring considering their injury-hit back line.
Per Mertesacker has been ruled out of the game, which could leave the Gunners more susceptible to an aerial threat.
Whilst that's not normally Milan's style, Ibrahimovic can be deadly from crosses.
In a Champions League tie—or any football match, for that matter—anything can happen.
It only takes a rash challenge to change the flow of a game, and one red card could mean the end of the road for one team.
It's important to try and keep an open mind in these situations, and whilst I've predicted Arsenal will come off the better in this game, I also wouldn't be surprised to see the result go to the home team.
Some games are a lot more predictable than others, and this is a tough one to call.
Whoever you support, I hope your team doesn't let you down.
Thanks for reading, and click here to see my player ratings from the Milan derby.
On Twitter? Follow me @petercwebster, where I post all my B/R content.