Milan Preview: Something to lose, but plenty more to gain

Adebayor heads against the bar in the first leg

Ahead of tonight’s Champions League Second Round Second Leg, I’m sure a lot of pundits will claim that Arsenal have ‘nothing to lose’. That is, frankly, a lie. Not only do we stand to lose a valuable place in the Champions League Quarter Finals, but we would also have to deal with the psychological consequences of a fifth game without a win, and going out of a third competition within the space of a month.

And yet, tonight is all about what we stand to gain. To go through tonight, in a game in which we are almost universally regarded as underdogs, would not only grant us progression in Europe but also send out a message to the Premier League’s chasing pack that we are a force to be contended with, and will not be supplicant in this season’s topsy-turvy title race.

Predictable, the likes of Nesta, Kaka and Pirlo have all been passed fit for this evening’s game. However, whilst Kolo Toure and Tomas Rosicky have missed out, Arsene has pulled a surprise of his own in naming Robin van Persie among the substitutes. The Dutchman could make a fairy-tale return in the games latter stages.

Like the first leg, it’ll be a tie that’s decided in the midfield. Hopefully the likes of Flamini and Fabregas will put in a performance of similar quality, and keep Kaka & Co quiet. Upfront, meanwhile, if there was ever a time for Emmanuel Adebayor to score his first Champions League goal for Arsenal, this is it.

As much as might be the underdogs at the outset of the game, the first leg showed we’re more than capable of holding our own against Milan. As Arsene says:

“If you ask me, can we overcome this hurdle? Then I say yes. Let’s go into the game with that mindset.”

Yes, let’s. It’s a chance to make history. That’s what we do best.

Come on Arsenal.

Update 11.42am: I’m so ridiculously excited for tonight.  I have a feeling it could be a classic.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.