Milan Preview: Chamberlain to get central role?

I don’t know if I speak for all Arsenal fans, but I’m rather looking forward to tonight.  A couple of big wins in the league have changed the mood in the camp, and what previously looked like a humiliating dead rubber now feels like an opportunity to face glamorous opposition with, really, nothing to lose.  No one has ever over-turned a four-goal deficit in Europe and the Champions League betting reflects the uphill task Arsenal face.  To all intents and purposes, we’re already out, but any sort of positive result would be catalytic fuel on the fire of our momentum.  And if – IF – we were to score a couple of early goals… well, you just never know.

Possible team to face Milan

A succession of injuries in midfield means we have little option but to be gung-ho about our attacking intent.  We’re without Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Frimpong, Diaby, Benayoun and Coquelin, whilst doubts persist over Tomas Rosicky.  If the Czech is fit, he’s certain to partner Alex Song at the base of our midfield.

Ahead of that, I think Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may be afforded a start in the roaming central role he briefly occupied against Liverpool, with Gervinho and Theo Walcott on the flanks.

Some have suggested the possibility of switching to 4-4-2, but we’re perhaps the only team in the world for whom introducing a second striker (Park or Chamakh) probably makes us a weaker attacking force.

Robin van Persie will, of course, play.  Some fans are already quaking with fear about the possibility of Robin picking up an injury.  I don’t think you can go through a season, or indeed a life, with that sort of attitude.  He might get a knock, but it’s no more likely to happen tonight than in any other game – or arguably even a training session.  And the idea that we have any chance of getting a decent result without him is more fantastical than our hopes of qualification.

As I said though, you never know.  Football can be a strange and miraculous sport, and the likelihood of going out is not a reason not to bother qualifying.  I admire Arsene’s guts here.  He could written it off, and said: “Yeah, we’re out, I’m going to play the Reserves”.  Instead, he is rallying the troops:

 “When you are a top-level competitor, even if statistically we have a 5% chance, what is important is that we believe that we can be in this 5%. That is what is at stake for us. Let’s make sure that we do not miss out because we did not believe in it.”

Well put.  Arsene and Arsenal were deeply hurt by the 4-0 hammering in Milan, and tonight is, in the first place, about restoring some pride.  Any kind of win would undoubtedly be a good thing.  If it’s by the margin of a few goals, and close enough to get us excited about the remote possibility of reigning the Italians in… well, then it’ll have been a very exciting night indeed.

Come On You Gunners.  You never know, this might be our last night in the Champions League for a while.  Let’s enjoy it.

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


  1. Gunner4Life   •  

    Lets kick some Italian ass; and perhaps do a Jordan Henderson on Ibra (the cocky Swedish Ass!)!!


  2. Opesicky   •  

    Chamberlain sholuld play d central role

  3. Arse&Nose©   •  

    Haha How tall would one need to be to ‘Henderson’ Ibra?

  4. Leper Messiah   •  

    Regardless of how hopeless or not our situation is, one thing that might come out of tonight is that we may see Wenger experiment tactically in a way that some fans have been desperate to see for a long time.

    Even if we go out, a bit of new-found tactical flexibility couldn’t hurt.

  5. arsenalDheart   •  

    I had rather walcot playing in the centre RvP behind him and Ox at the right flank… Why waste Ox speed and cheekiness if he is put in the middle he can dribble at the flank without being pack in the middle
    This is what I prefer….

    Gervinho RvP Ox

  6. Zywiec   •  

    2-0 at 35 mins…
    Surprised. Still a long shot, but plenty of time to get through.

  7. Zywiec   •  

    3-0 @ half time.
    It’s on like donkey kong.

  8. Serena   •  

    Park and Chamakh came on, you just know that the game was over

  9. Makanaky WO   •  

    Add Gervinho to that list Serena.

    A valiant effort subverted by the laziness of the above.

    Chamberlain,Rosicky Sagna, RvP and Koscielny were committed.

  10. Munitionsman   •  

    So basically had wenger played the ox for 45mins in Milan we we have qualified. Now we are out, the team is knackered for the weekend and the ox is broken. One of these isn’t wengers managerial failure. We sd have tossed the tie.

  11. Munitionsman   •  

    And deffo toss the manager

  12. jdub   •  

    To take anything away from these players or our manager for their performance tonight is horrible. We just thrashed the Italian champions on our own pitch. It took a muddy pitch and a (shocking) idiot decision by Djourou to put them through.

  13. Nick   •  

    I couldn’t be prouder of Arsenal tonight except if they’d won. They played with heart and passion, pressed when taken off the ball and defended well. Very proud of Rosicky, RVP, Ox, Koscielny, Sagna and TV5.

    I was let down by Gervinho and Song just wasn’t there. Theo needs to run at the defenders like the Ox did and we’d earn more penalties. Luckily Theos bad cross was misplayed and Rosicky got a goal. his brain got in the way and he passed far too many times he needed to run into the box and shoot.

    The Ref was rubbish! No yellow for Mexes foul on TV5?!?!??!!! Or for Robinho kicking the ball away. Ibra’s free kick goes off Sagnas arm and we get a goal kick? The ref missed so many calls tonight I felt it hindered our second half and took momentum away from us. All that time wasting in added time.

    Ibrahimavic is a lazy diving cunt!!!
    Look how well we can play on a proper pitch!

    Bring on Newcastle!

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