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:

Jamie Redknapp

Redknapp: Costa's made a difference

Diego Costa has shown the impact he can have at Chelsea, but injuries are a worry, says Jamie Redknapp....

Gary Neville

Neville: Arsenal must sign a striker

Arsenal must sign a replacement for injured Olivier Giroud if they want to win the title, says Gary Neville....

Jeff Stelling

Stelling: Fears for Leeds

Jeff Stelling is worried that headline-making Leeds could end up slipping back into League One. ...

Latest News RSS feeds

Live transfer updates

Dutch media says Daley Blind on verge of Man Utd move as Chelsea agree to loan Fernando Torres to AC Milan for two years.

Remy to hold Chelsea talks

Queens Park Rangers have given permission for Loic Remy to hold talks with Chelsea, according to Sky sources.

Top-four target for van Gaal

Louis van Gaal has set Manchester United an initial target of a top-four finish in this season's Premier League.

Premier League preview

Chelsea travel to Everton for Saturday Night Football, while Super Sunday features Tottenham against Liverpool and Leicester versus Arsenal.

Torres heading for Milan

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres will have a medical at AC Milan on Saturday ahead of an agreed two-year loan deal.

Features

Tottenham's Erik Lamela ready for Premier League lift off

Tottenham's Erik Lamela ready for Premier League lift off

Everyone agreed that Tottenham had acquired some fine players in the summer of 2013, but the notorious line that Spurs sold Elvis to buy the Beatles soon became a source of embarrassment. Not least because that cast young Erik Lamela as John Lennon, the most celebrated of the lot.

Analysis: Everton's signing of Samuel Eto'o can be significant on and off the pitch for Roberto Martinez's side

Analysis: Everton's signing of Samuel Eto'o can be significant on and off the pitch for Roberto Martinez's side

Saturday’s opponents Chelsea might have expected Everton’s Romelu Lukaku to come back to haunt them, but Jose Mourinho surely thought he’d seen the back of Samuel Eto’o. Instead he’s back in the Premier League and eyeing another challenge in his remarkable career.

Mario Balotelli's track record on the pitch makes him a gamble worth taking for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool

Mario Balotelli's track record on the pitch makes him a gamble worth taking for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool

When it comes to the art of signing players, few did it better than Brian Clough and Peter Taylor. In the latter’s book With Clough by Taylor he explained some of the science behind it in detailing how Nottingham Forest actively sought to buy players they perceived to have personal problems.