Arsene Wenger needs a successful Italian job and other Arsenal talking points ahead of their match against AC Milan

Denzil Pinto 01:53 08/03/2018
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Arsenal face AC Milan at the San Siro on Thursday night in what has become a crucial game for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

The Europa League is now a priority for Arsenal following another poor domestic campaign.

Here, here the main talking points ahead of the first leg of a huge last-16 clash.

WENGER NEEDS A SUCCESSFUL ITALIAN JOB

Under pressure: Arsene Wenger

Under pressure: Arsene Wenger

A beleaguered Wenger is now in a position where any negative result leads to increased calls for him to leave.

The 68-year-old would have heard his own supporters bellow “we want Wenger out” during Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Brighton – a fourth consecutive loss.

While the Frenchman has stressed all season that he wants to return to the Champions League by finishing in the top four, that now looks unlikely as they are 13 points adrift.

Therefore this competition takes on more importance, especially as the 3-0 Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City means this is also the only chance of silverware this season.

MEETING OF TWO SLEEPING GIANTS

Man in charge: Gattuso

Man in charge: Gennaro Gattuso

While Arsenal’s issues are laid bare for all to see back home, AC Milan are not without their own troubles.

Vincenzo Montella was sacked in November following a poor start to the season with former club favourite Gennaro Gattuso promoted from the youth set-up to take his place.

The change in manager has yielded better results with Milan recording just three losses since Gattuso’s appointment.

The slow start, however, leaves the Rossoneri seventh in Serie A and facing a similar battle to Arsenal to re-establish themselves.

A CARE FOR DEFENCE

Leaking goals: Arsenal have been poor at the back

Leaking goals: Arsenal have been poor at the back

While Milan may also be struggling for a return to the top, Gattuso at least has them well-organised defensively. Since the turn of the year, Milan have only shipped three goals and have kept clean sheets in their last six games.

Compare that to Arsenal, who have conceded 25 goals during the same period and whose defenders looked bereft of confidence at Brighton this past weekend.

Add to that the absence of both first-choice full-backs through injury and the Premier League side will certainly need to improve in that department if they are to win this tie over the two legs.

STRIFE ON THE ROAD

It is not only Arsenal’s defenders who struggle when they leave the relatively safe confines of the Emirates Stadium. With just six away wins across all competitions this season, the form away from home is one of the most alarming aspects of Arsenal’s campaign.

Three of those victories came at BATE Borisov, Red Star Belgrade and Ostersund, not particularly difficult hunting grounds, and – having lost 4-0 the last time they faced AC Milan at the San Siro – not even history is on the side on Wenger and his players.


DANNY NEEDS TO DO WEL

Back in action: Danny Welbeck

Back in action: Danny Welbeck

With club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cup-tied and unable to face the team where he began his career and fellow big-money recruit Alexandre Lacazette still nursing a knee problem, Wenger is likely to once again put his faith in England international Danny Welbeck.

The former Manchester United man failed to impress when he played as a striker in both legs of the previous round against Ostersund and has scored only once in his last 12 appearances for the Gunners.

He needs to address that to give Arsenal their best chance of leaving Italy with an away goal but – coming up against the likes of Leonardo Bonucci – it will certainly be a tough ask of the 27-year-old.

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