AC Milan and Arsenal both return to form ahead of showdown
Impressive away victories set the tone for Wednesday’s San Siro collision
AC Milan and Arsenal mirrored one another on Saturday in their final encounters before the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 encounter in Italy on Wednesday, which the hosts are 10/11 favourites to triumph in.
Both had disappointed in recent weeks, barring Arsenal’s annihilation of Blackburn, to compromise their domestic objectives for the season and faced away games up north to provincial clubs in strong form and boasting formidable home records.
The similarities continued as both fell behind yet recovered with two goals in the closing 16 minutes, January loan arrivals coming on to turn the tide as Thierry Henry struck late for Arsenal and Maxi Lopez got a goal and an assist for AC Milan.
So with the two sides following almost identical paths, who will gain more momentum from their weekend success? It’s arguably the Rossoneri, who are 10/11 both to win the San Siro tie and progress to the quarter-finals.
Massimiliano Allegri’s team’s victory against the club who started matchday 23 directly below them not only sent them to the top of the Serie A table but was achieved without star man and top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Swedish striker, who fired twice in his last clash with the Gunners while representing Barcelona two years ago, has been superb this term yet tends to suffer a February dip in form which may be bypassed thanks to his current league ban.
Henry, Ibrahimovic’s former Barca team-mate, is available for the first leg however, his final fixture before returning to the MLS, and has fond memories of the San Siro having scored twice there in a 5-1 Arsenal thumping of Inter in 2003.
It is 11/4 that the Frenchman bids his latest farewell in glorious fashion by helping to guide them to a win at the ground where they also won their last meeting with AC Milan 2-0 in 2007-08.