Gunning for a Title: Arsenal's European Ambitions
"That promises us a very interesting last-16 game," according to Arsene Wenger—and it's hard to imagine any Gunners fan would disagree.
The only question: Is this squad good enough to go all the way?
Except for the losses at Sevilla and Middlesbrough, it's been a flawless season for the Gunners. Emmanuel Adebayor has been in superb form up front, Cesc Fabregas has been instrumental in the middle, and Kolo Toure and William Gallas have been solid at the back.
However, injuries to key players like Fabregas, Alexander Hleb, and Robin Van Persie could hinder progression in a tournament like the Champions League. Tomas Rosicky and Eduardo have yet to set the world alight with their performances, so it would take a brave man to bet on the wounded Gunners.
Having said that, the Arsenal side that went to the Champions League Final in 2006 was crippled by injuries. It's hard to see them repeating that feat, especially at the San Siro—but Arsenal have exceeded all expectations this season, and face an AC Milan side currently 12th in Serie A.
Kaka and Co. do pose a considerable threat to the Gunner's European ambitions, but there's reason to believe that the aging Milan defence can be overcome.
The highly anticipated clash between the youthful Gunners and the veterans of Milan kicks off at the Emirates on February 20th. If Arsenal are to progress, it's essential for them to take a lead of some sort to the return leg at the San Siro.
The Roseneri won't be easy to defeat, and the Gunners will have to be at their best. To their credit, the departure of Thierry Henry has galvanized this team to perform as a unit, and Wenger has once again assembled a thrilling young side.
Will this finally be the season they conquer Europe?
It's very possible.
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