Football: NOW IT'S SAN SERIOUS; CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ARSENAL 0 AC MILAN 0 Edgy Arsenal Need Miracle in Italy to Make It into Last Eight

The Mirror (London, England), February 21, 2008 | Go to article overview

Football: NOW IT'S SAN SERIOUS; CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ARSENAL 0 AC MILAN 0 Edgy Arsenal Need Miracle in Italy to Make It into Last Eight


Byline: JOHN CROSS

ARSENE WENGER'S young pretenders have been defying odds and expectations all season.

But the Gunners will need the biggest result of their lives in the San Siro in a fortnight's time.

It was a nervous, edgy draw at the Emirates which eventually brought Emmanuel Adebayor to his knees after his injury-time header crashed against the bar.

It was a miss which may well come back to haunt Arsenal because it leaves them needing a minor miracle in the return leg and probably the biggest result in the club's European history.

But only a fool would write off Arsene Wenger's side now after their incredible season which has left them five points clear at the top of the Premier League when few outside of the red and white half of north London gave them a prayer.

And some of Arsenal's best results in the Champions League have come in Italy - winning 5-1 in the San Siro against Inter Milan in 2003 and beating Roma 3-1 in the Olympic Stadium 12 months earlier.

But this will take probably a better result than any of their successes on the path to reaching the Champions League final two years ago when they put out the European might of Juventus and Real Madrid.

Milan looked every inch the reigning European champions last night as they sat back, defended resolutely and frustrated Arsenal.

Carlo Ancelotti's men looked seasoned European campaigners as they weathered a heavy second half storm. It lacked the late, high drama of Anfield on Tuesday night as Milan were disciplined, tight and well organised. At half time it was impossible to see a way through their vastly experienced defence.

But Arsenal really stepped up the pace and tempo after the break and only one of the best back fours in the business could have withheld such constant and intense pressure.

Adebayor just had one of those nights which was typified by his late, late miss. But no-one could fault his work-rate as he ran the Italian defence ragged.

In the end, Paolo Maldini looked as if he was blowing out of his backside and, at the grand old age of 39, he must have wished he had retired before attempting one last season.

But it is easy to understand why he keeps going in a side which is packed with experience and class. …

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