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Mirror UK / Sports

Wenger defies his last stand once more to leave Arsenal fans in emotional limbo

Every time it looks for sure that he has faced his final curtain, he survives to keep his story running longer than The Mousetrap

Devastated, dazed and confused.

Not the crushed AC Milan players - the bewildered Arsenal fans who won’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Arsene Wenger really is the Teflon Don. He is Al Pacino’s Tony Montana, shooting his way out of trouble just when his critics think they have him where they want him.

You are going to need an army if you are going to take the Gunners boss.

This was supposed to be his last stand. His Waterloo. His players had supposedly downed tools on him and were set to be burnt to a crisp in the fire reignited by Gennaro Gattuso in his AC Milan fighters.

Yet here we are. Barring a miracle at the Emirates Arsenal are now through with their two away goals and - you have to say - an impressive display.

Every time the game looks up for Wenger he pulls a monster result out of the bag.

Wenger pulled a result out of the bag... just when he needed it (Image: AFP)

Mkhitaryan struck first for Arsenal (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

Every time it looks for sure that he has faced his final curtain, he survives to keep his story running longer than The Mousetrap.

The travelling fans voiced their delight but pointedly did not voice their support for Wenger.

He won’t care. His dream of Europa League success, the backdoor into next season’s Champions League that will make it harder to sack him, remains alive.

Tony Adams, Thierry Henry and all the other Arsenal pretenders to the crown in the Gunners’ Game of Thrones will have to wait just that little bit longer.

Defiant Wenger has always maintained he would go out on his terms. This stunning win - inflicting a first defeat on Milan in 14 games - is quite some way of making his point.

Arsenal had managed to win just six of their 21 away days before this. The Milan players had clearly not been watching that much English football on TV over the past fortnight or so.

Ramsey doubled Arsenal's advantage (Image: Getty Images Europe)

AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal: Mkhitaryan and Ramsey strike as Gunners put one foot in last eight - 5 talking points

Outclassed by Manchester City twice in five days, the Gunners were then wimps against warriors at Brighton last Sunday. Snowflakes against soldiers.

They were widely-believed to be there for the taking here. The travelling fans certainly thought so. “How **** must you be? We’re winning away!” they sang at half time.

Milan were not poor, they simply afforded Arsenal too much respect. All too often they stood off the Arsenal stars, allowing them the time and space they needed to get their passing game - and their confidence - back on track. Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey needed no second invitation.

Fourteen minutes in, Ozil played a superb first-time ball to free Mkhitaryan in the box. The Armenian hammered in a deflected effort which left talented keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma with no chance.

Arsenal were always shaky at the back but going forward they grew in confidence. Donnarumma saved from Calum Chambers four minutes before the break. Danny Welbeck shot weakly at the Milan keeper when through on goal a minute later. He has still scored just six times all season - and only twice since September.

He can still play a decent pass, though. It was his through ball that released Mkhitaryan a minute into first-half stoppage time.

Arsenal have one foot in the last eight (Image: REUTERS)
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The former Manchester United star shifted the ball onto his right foot just as he did for the goal. This time, however, his shot clipped the crossbar when he should have scored again.

It was left to Ramsey to do so, three minutes later. Ozil sliced through the Milan defence once more, freeing the Wales midfielder.

Ramsey had so much space he could have applied for planning permission. He rounded Donarumma to tap it in.

Welbeck had yet another gilt-edged opportunity, minutes into the second half. But he lacked belief when sent clear and fluffed it.

Let’s not kid ourselves, Arsenal’s shambolic home display against Ostersunds was proof that they could yet stuff it up from here.

But Wenger will have enjoyed making his point. He goes when he wants.

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