Blogs & Opinion


Ray Wilkins:

Most Popular Posts:

Opinion Archive:

Statement of intent

Gunners can show they are a team on the up, says Ray

Ray Wilkins - Ray Wilkins Posted 6th March 2012 view comments

Arsenal v Milan, 7pm, Tue, Sky Sports 2 HD and Sky 3D

I don't give Arsenal a prayer of turning this tie around.

But you can bet that the Gunners aren't thinking that way and if they can score inside the first 20 minutes you just never know what might happen.

Szczęsny: Arsenal stopper will come up against in-form Ibrahimovic

Szczęsny: Arsenal stopper will come up against in-form Ibrahimovic

Arsenal will be full of confidence having got five at Tottenham and beating Liverpool in their last two Premier League games and that momentum could see them put in a cracking show against Milan.

Football can kick you in the groin at times and it did to Milan in the quarter-finals of the 2003/04 Champions League.

The Italians built up a 4-1 lead over Deportivo la Coruna in the first match but capitulated 4-0 in the second leg and went out. This is a different Milan team but a few early goals for Arsenal and the seeds of doubt may start to creep in.

This is a great game for Arsenal to show to Robin van Persie and potential new signings that they are a top team and that the future is bright.

Ray Wilkins
Quotes of the week

Arsenal played Tomas Rosicky in a wide position at the San Siro, but with them having to score plenty in this game they may opt for two out-and-out wingers, probably Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

I'm expecting to see a really positive Arsenal; they'll lob people forward, create chances and, hopefully, a few will fly in.

Arsene Wenger's men won't find it easy in the middle of the park, though, where they will come up against the veteran Mark van Bommel.

The Dutchman is so intelligent and he will pull the other two central midfielders - Antonio Nocerino and one other - in tight. He may lack pace but he was wonderful for Holland against England last week and will not get exposed.

Milan will be buoyant after they won 4-0 at Palermo on Saturday, a notoriously difficult place to go. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a first-half hat-trick, but he could find goals harder to come by when he faces up to Wojciech Szczęsny, who has consistently proved this term what a magnificent goalkeeper he is.

Max Allegri has really galvanised Milan since he took charge in the summer of 2010; they won Serie A last season and are going great guns again this year, while they are more vibrant than they used to be.

I also like the way Allegri utilises the experienced players in his squad, like Clarence Seedorf, van Bommel and Alessandro Nesta. They might not all play every week, but the younger members of the side can fall back on them when needs be which is vital for any successful club, especially one chasing the Champions League crown.

Milan should keep that dream alive this week, but it is also a great game for Arsenal to showcase to Robin van Persie and potential new signings - they have been linked with Cologne's Lukas Podolski - that they are a top team and that the future is bright.

Arsenal won't go through but they can make a huge statement.

Benfica v Zenit, 7.30pm, Tue, Sky Sports 4 HD

When the Stadium of Light is buzzing it is a great place to be. It won't be easy for Benfica who trail 3-2 from the first leg in Russia , but I'm going to back them to nick it because they look to have a tad more quality than Zenit. If Benfica do go through, they will test anyone but the fact that they don't play against top-quality in the Portuguese league every week will count against them when they came up against the big boys.

APOEL v Lyon, 7pm, Wed, Sky Sports 1 HD

APOEL get fantastic support at their home ground, the GSP Stadium. The place is smaller than a lot of big-name players are used to, but when it's full it is absolutely rocking; it's almost like there are cheerleaders in the stands. Just getting to where APOEL are at the moment is like they have won the Champions League but I don't think this tie is over. The Cypriots can overturn their 1-0 defeat from the first leg.

Barcelona v Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen's task is scary. They got a good result at the weekend, beating Bayern Munich 2-0, but to turn around a 3-1 first-leg deficit at the Camp Nou is practically impossible. Leverkusen only have themselves to blame, however, because if they had played as positively in the second half of game one as they did in the first, they might have only been beaten by one goal and had a sniff. Now, I'm quite sure Barcelona will win comfortably.

Comments (1)

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Jool Johnson jok (Arsenal fan) says...

Gunners are the underdog but football is unpredictable. Come on Arsenal!

Posted 11:47 6th March 2012

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Ed Chamberlin

Ed: City can make statement

Ed Chamberlin can't wait for Man City-Chelsea on Super Sunday and gives his early Ryder Cup tips....

Jamie Redknapp

Redknapp: No need to worry

Jamie Redknapp isn't concerned after the English clubs made their worst ever Champions League start....

Martin Tyler

Tyler's stats and facts

The best goalscoring streaks and the Premier League's oldest and youngest... here's Martin!...

Latest News RSS feeds

Costa concern for Chelsea

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says Diego Costa is not yet ready to start more than one match in a week.

Live transfer updates

Arsenal linked with Iker Casillas, while Chelsea and Liverpool said to be keen on Bayer Leverskusen's Julian Brandt.

Redknapp: No need to worry

Jamie Redknapp isn't concerned after the English clubs made their worst ever Champions League start.

Rodgers working on Balotelli

Brendan Rodgers hopes Mario Balotelli will take inspiration from the likes of Luis Suarez as he settles at Liverpool.

Harry surprised at Sandro move

Harry Redknapp claims Tottenham rejected a significant rival bid for Sandro before allowing him to join QPR for less.

Features

Champions League: Yaya Toure off the pace as Manchester City succumb to late goal against Bayern Munich

Champions League: Yaya Toure off the pace as Manchester City succumb to late goal against Bayern Munich

Vincent Kompany said earlier this week that Yaya Toure was "not far off" signing a new Manchester City deal; that's considerably closer than he got to any Bayern Munich midfielder on Wednesday night.

Who is the real Ronald Koeman? Former team-mate Rob McDonald shares his memories of the Southampton boss

Who is the real Ronald Koeman? Former team-mate Rob McDonald shares his memories of the Southampton boss

Not many Englishmen know Dutch football better than Rob McDonald. The former Newcastle United striker spent the best part of eight years in the country as a player, winning the Eredivisie title during his time in Eindhoven with a PSV team that included the genius of Ruud Gullit.

Mario Balotelli: Liverpool 2 Ludogorets 1 - How did the striker perform for Brendan Rodgers’ team as the Champions League returned to Anfield?

Mario Balotelli: Liverpool 2 Ludogorets 1 - How did the striker perform for Brendan Rodgers’ team as the Champions League returned to Anfield?

It was an edgy evening for Liverpool after five years away from the European Cup and it took injury-time drama for minnows Ludogorets to be beaten on Merseyside.