Boateng 15, Robinho 38, 49, Ibrahimovic (pen) 79
Arsene Wenger spoke before his Arsenal side’s trip to Milan about building momentum in what could be a defining week for the Gunners. Yet, instead of building a foundation to make a double cup assault and put pressure on Chelsea, they suffered their heaviest ever European defeat at the hands of a rampant Milan side.
The Frenchman had called the San Siro pitch, re-laid down the wings, as “troubling” and “worrying” but it caused the Rossoneri few problems as they comprehensively outplayed Arsenal from first to last with a master class of aggressive pass-and-move football.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Robinho were the key players for Milan, pulling the Arsenal centre-back pairing all over the place and all grabbing a place on the score sheet.
The Gunners’ keeper Wojciech Szczesny summed the match up succinctly afterwards: “We didn’t have the best of games. The scored some quality goals and deserved to win. It was a very disappointing day.” Well, quite.
Former Spurs player Boateng was first in line on the quarter hour mark when he broke through the defence, chested down a through ball from Antonio Nocerino and, without breaking stride, rifled a shot past Szczesny. It was just reward for the home side which had started the game much the stronger.
They continued to carve Arsenal apart and got stronger as the half progressed. Eight minutes before the break the Gunners’ trouble doubled. Ibrahimovic found himself behind Arsenal’s back four and strode forward on the “worrying” re-laid wing before cutting back for an unmarked Robinho to direct a header to the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.
Half-time saw the introduction of Thierry Henry in the last game of his second spell for the Gunners, however there was to be no fairytale ending for the Frenchman as just three minutes later Robinho grabbed his second. The Brazilian took advantage of a slip by Thomas Vermaelen to rifle a shot home from the edge of the penalty area.
Arsenal did have their share of possession, however they lacked the creativity and spark displayed by the hosts. Their best chance came in the 65th minute when Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie combined superbly to test Christian Abbiati. The Italian’s save was as important as any of the three chances his side took.
It could have changed the momentum of the game and the tie, it did neither and Milan added a fourth from the penalty spot after Ibrahimovic was brought down by Djourou. The Swede stepped up to confidently put the ball past Szczesny.
Before this game Wenger had said defeat in one competition can have consequences in games in other competitions. Sunderland must be rubbing their hands ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup tie.
AC Milan: (4-3-1-2 ) Abbiati; Abate, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Antonini; Van Bommel, Seedorf (Emanuelson 12), Nocerino; Boateng (Ambrosini 69); Ibrahimovic, Robinho.
Arsenal: (4-2-3-1) Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny (Djourou 43), Vermaelen, Gibbs (Oxlade-Chamberlain 65); Song, Arteta; Rosicky, Walcott (Henry 45), Ramsey; van Persie.
Did you know… Arsenal were the first English team to beat AC Milan in the San Siro when they beat them in the Champions League in 2008.
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