Arsenal Fail Gloriously Against AC Milan: Rating the Players in the Amazing Game
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The 3-0 victory, though, was not enough to take Arsenal past AC Milan who won 4-0 in the first leg at the San Siro.
Having taken the match by the scruff of its neck in the first half, Arsenal needed just a goal to even things up, and they looked like they had the goal very early in the second half when a rebound from a Gervinho shot fell to Robin van Persie, who was then thwarted by Christian Abbiati, the Milan goalkeeper at a point blank range.
Arsenal celebrate their third goal. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.
This proved to be Arsenal's only chance in the second half as Milan's decision to go on the attack in the second half meant that Arsenal were also kept busy defending.
Injuries to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott did not help Arsenal's course in the dying minutes of the match.
All in all, Arsenal accounted themselves well and answered their critics, who had dismissed them after their 4-0 mauling in the first leg.
But for that miss by Robin van Persie, who scored a crisp penalty in the first half after the lively Oxlade-Chamberlain had been brought down in the Milan penalty area, Arsenal might likely have progressed.
Seven, 26, 43 are the minutes Arsenal scored their goals, reducing the Milan team to chasing shadows through their effective movement off the ball. It was a performance of the highest quality.
In any case, kudos must go to all the players who gave the match their all and made their fans proud. They proved once again that they are no dung as some short-sighted fans have dismissed them as being.
Here are my ratings:
3: Unbelievably poor after he came on for Theo Walcott. I can't recall him doing anything noteworthy.
4.5: Didn't add anything to the match, but made an effort to chase balls and to track back, but it was apparent that after the departure of Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, the wind had gone out of Arsenal's sails.
9: His point black save from Antonio Nocerino kept Arsenal in the game, although this proved meaningless in the end, except for the fact that it kept the final scoreline close.
His blunder in handing Zlatan Ibrahimovic a chance to shoot at a blank goal is the only blot on his performance that I can remember.
8.5: Combined well with Theo Walcott to keep Arsenal's right flank safe from Milan's attacks. Milan found a way to get behind Sagna in the second half, but that was mostly by having players move diagonally upfield from the midfield.
Bacary Sagna helped keep Urby Emanuelson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at bay. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.
9: Got Arsenal going toward a comeback by his precise header from a corner after losing his marker (Mark van Bommel). He did well in the defense, helping to keep Ibrahimovic at arm's length.
8.5: Did his job well and quietly, which helped Arsenal to concentrate on attacking Milan in the first half.
8: Did very well by pressing high in the left flank. Often out-dueling Robinho with the help of Alex Song. I was very impressed with his overlapping runs.
8: Was the only holding player today, as Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain concentrated on fashioning attacks whenever Arsenal had the ball. This worked very well in the first half and kept Milan defending rather than attacking.
Song defended well too, but could not find any of his killer passes in this match.
9: Was brilliant playing in the middle, a different role than playing on the flank as he has been used previously.
He did not disappoint. His darting run into the Milan box in the 42nd minute of the first half earned Arsenal the penalty that gave them the third goal.
His injury probably prevented Arsenal from completing their comeback.
9: Worked very well in conjunction with AOC.
His quick reaction after a Theo Walcott cross had been hastily but poorly cleared away gave Arsenal their second goal. He looked lively and effective in the midfield. He needed to have defended better in the second half
9: Had a good game.
Looked always dangerous running at the Milan defense. It earned Arsenal their second goal. He needed to have tried his luck at shooting in the second half. Other than that, he was good. His injury, like that of AOC, halted Arsenal's momentum in the second half.
7: Gervinho hasn't apparently recovered his sharpness since going to the Africa Cup of Nation and coming back fatigued. The old Gervinho would have caused Milan the same kinds of problems as Walcott's.
For a player of his talents, I expected much more from him. His shot that nearly got us the fourth goal was a good one though, and overall, Gervinho wasn't bad.
Robin van Persie
9: What a penalty and how unlucky not to score Arsenal's fourth goal. Dropping deeper and to the flanks was a smart tactical move from Arsene Wenger, as it proved confusing to the Milan defenders.
As always, Van Persie's movement was good.
This must be the miss of the game. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.
Injuries to Walcott and AOC changed the complexion of the game. But Milan's decision to push higher and attack through the trio of Ibrahimovic, Robinho and Urby Emanuelson was also a big factor. Arsenal's midfield was neutralized as a result as was the case in the first leg.
But this was down to lack of option there due to injury to the options that would have been used: Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Yossi Benayoun and Abou Diaby.
To those Arsenal fans who can't help but criticize the team, this should be a lesson. Stick with your own no matter what. By all means criticize, but do so within the parameters of reason.
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