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AC Milan vs Arsenal as it happened: Europa League first leg

Arsenal travel to AC Milan in their last-16 Europa League clash, with Arsene Wenger’s side heading into the tie having lost four consecutive games for the first time since 2002.


Arsenal travel to AC Milan in their last-16 Europa League clash, with Arsene Wenger’s side heading into the tie having lost four consecutive games for the first time since 2002.

The Gunners’ 2-1 defeat to Brighton at the weekend, their fourth in five league games, has ignited an already bubbling cauldron of rage towards Wenger, with 88% of the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) indicating earlier this week that they want Wenger to leave at the end of the season.

AC Milan, on a 12-game unbeaten run dating back to December and having won their last five on the bounce, are arguably some of the least desirable opposition for Arsenal to face in attempting to end their barren streak, especially under the lights at a raucous, sold-out San Siro.

Follow all the action below with our live blog:

Live Updates

5 days ago

The teams are in!

AC Milan: Donnarumma; Calabria, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Cutrone, Çalhanoğlu.

Arsenal: Ospina; Chambers, Koscielny, Mustafi, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Ramsey; Wilshere, Mkhitaryan, Ozil; Welbeck.

5 days ago

Good evening and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of AC Milan against Arsenal in the last 16 of the Europa League. It's only the start of March but it's Arsenal's biggest game of the season and you sense that defeat in this round and it could be game over for Arsene Wenger. 

Arsenal's hopes of obtaining Champions League football through the Premier League are about as likely as Jose Mourinho inviting Antonio Conte round for a pint at his local; it's just not going to happen. Following Manchester United's lead last season and winning the Europa League seems the only way the Gunner can save their bleak, bleak season.

5 days ago

Aubame-OUT

As you die-hard Europa League boffins know, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is unavailable for Arsenal because he played for Borussia Dortmund, who are still in the competition. 

Hector Bellerin is out with a knock and Alex Iwobi drops to the bench which paves the way for Aaron Ramsey to return to the starting side after being rested during Arsenal's 2-1 defeats against Brighton on Sunday.

5 days ago

5 days ago

5 days ago

Gennaro Gattuso

The Europa League is the only competition AC Milan have not won and it appeared that another year would go past without Euro"pean success, until Gennaro Gattuso took over.

"Compared to Wenger, I'm just a rookie," said the former AC Milan midfielder who became first team manager in November. He took over a side struggling in all competitions but has transformed them into an hard to beat unit, capable of competing again. 


Gattuso has encouraged his side to hate losing which has resulted in just three defeats in his 19 games in charge. The Italian has always had a competitive side to him, to say the least. Remember when he went a little bit rogue seven years ago against Tottenham?  

5 days ago

Wenger: This is an opportunity we have to take

Arsene Wenger knows exactly how important this competition is to Arsenal's season, and says that the Gunners will have to show their quality to get through their latest rough patch of form. 

"It is difficult when you go through a patch like this," said Wenger. "But it is a good opportunity to show you have the quality and the strengths and you can only show that when it is difficult."

5 days ago

Wenger wouldn't last if he was appointed at the start of the season

Martin Keown, on BT Sport has not held back in his criticism of Arsene Wenger's season and suggests that he would have been sacked had he been appointed at the beginning of this campaign.

"If Wenger was appointed manager at the start of the season, he wouldn't last to the end of it, it's been that bad. He means more to Arsenal than that and he has to dig deep. Can that team really defend? He'll want to attack, that's his philosophy and he may fall on his sword tonight, because that team is very open."

5 days ago

Familiar faces

AC Milan attacker Suso played for Liverpool between 2012-15 but made only 14 appearances and spent a season away on loan.

Teenage goalkeeping sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma may be busy this evening but he had former Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci in front of him.

Ricardo Rodriguez starts at left back and was reportedly an Arsenal, Liverpool and Marseille target when he was at Wolfsburg but instead chose the Italian giants.

Suso made his Liverpool debut in 2012 against Manchester United in a 2-1 defeat at Anfield. 

5 days ago

AC Milan were due to play city rivals Inter Milan at the weekend but the fixture was postponed following the tragic death of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori. There will be a minute's silence ahead of this evening's fixture to remember the Italian International whose funeral was held earlier this afternoon.

5 days ago

Five minute warning

As the above title suggests, kick off is not far away. You can follow minute-by-minute updates with the occasional witty banter right here.

5 days ago

1: Minute silence observed and we're off. AC Milan get us underway in the first leg of the last 16 of the Europa League.

5 days ago

3: AC Milan are quickest out the blocks and have already won two corners. The latest is worked short then delivered towards Bonaventura at the back post who has the ball taken off him and turned away for corner number three.

5 days ago

5: Sead Kolasinac receives the ball after a one-two with Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the edge of the area and advances into the box. A space opens up to pull a pass back but he fluffs his lines and scuffs the ball. 

Meanwhile Callum Chambers is getting treatment on the pitch. He back on his feet and fit to carry on.

5 days ago

8: Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are starting to get on the ball more as Arsenal are beginning to settle at the San Siro. The duo are dropping deep to begin attacks.

Ozil plays the ball to Jack Wilshere who drives at the middle of the defence. Instead of shooting from the edge of the area, Wilshere lays the ball to his right and finds Mkhitaryan who shoots low into the side netting.

5 days ago

10: Sead Kolasinac and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are giving Calabria plenty to think about on Milan's left side. The duo are both getting in behind the defence but are yet to provide Danny Welbeck a delivery he can attack.

5 days ago

12: David Ospina rushes out to meet Calhanoglu who is through on goal. The goalkeeper appears to catch him on the right side of the box as the forward touches the ball out of play. Calhanoglu stayed on his feet despite the apparent contact, if he goes down you feel he gets a penalty. 

In other exciting developments, I've dropped my biscuit in my tea as I've written this. Fuming. 

GOAL!

5 days ago

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

AC Milan 0-1 Arsenal

15: Mesut Ozil plays a wonderful pass to Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the left channel. He cuts inside onto his right foot and fires into the far right corner from inside the box to score his first goal for Arsenal. And what a big goal it might turn out to be.

SOCIAL

5 days ago

5 days ago

20: The goal had been coming and Arsenal have looked good on their left-side. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Sead Kolasinac have been combining well and AC Milan have struggled to stop that.

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Match preview

It’s a big game for

Arsene Wenger: If there has ever been a game in Arsene Wenger’s 21 years that is a ‘must win’, then Thursday night comes as close as you’ll get. Whilst a victory at the San Siro would be unlikely to detract from the calls for Wenger’s departure, it is the only competition Arsenal retain a chance of winning in the current campaign, and this Europa League clash is certainly the biggest game Wenger has encountered in recent memory.

Best stat:

The Gunners have lost their last three European trips to Italy (excluding qualifiers), failing to score in defeats to Roma (0-1), Milan (0-4) and Napoli (0-2).

Remember when…

AC Milan’s 4-0 victory over Arsenal in 2012 was a memorable night at the San Siro, relive the game here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS9ATtKhpng

Player to watch…

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Arsenal’s £60m Gabonese forward has taken time to adapt to English football since transferring from Borussia Dortmund in January, though with two goals under his belt as well as scoring in his last outing vs Brighton, Aubameyang could hold the goal-scoring key to allow Arsenal to flourish against AC Milan on Thursday night.

Past three-meetings…

Arsenal 3 AC Milan 0, Champions League – March 2012

AC Milan 4 Arsenal 0, Champions League – February 2012

AC Milan 0 Arsenal 2, Champions League – March 2008

Form guide…

AC Milan: DWWWWW

Arsenal: LWLLLL

Odds…

AC Milan to win: 23/20

Arsenal to win: 5/2

Draw: 47/20

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