The Arsenal fans have been feeling dejected in the Transfer Tavern since they suffered their fifth straight defeat in all-competitions against Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend, but they have an opportunity to begin restoring some optimism back into the club during their visit to the San Siro this evening.
Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League this season were dealt a decisive blow on Sunday afternoon as they lost their third straight match in the league against Brighton at the Amex. The result has left The Gunners 13 points adrift of 4th place Tottenham Hotspur and 8 points off 5th place Chelsea, so it’s fair to say even the most optimistic of supporters would be forced to admit their top-four bid is over with 9 fixtures left to play.
However, hope is not lost just yet for Arsenal. The Europa League represents a major lifeline for the club, as the winners of the competition will automatically qualify for the Champions League. Manchester United managed to achieve that feat after they finished outside of the top-four last season, so Wenger will be hoping to emulate Mourinho’s achievements this season and add another trophy to his collection.
After qualifying for the last-sixteen against Graham Potters Ostersunds side two weeks ago, Arsenal now face a much sterner test against one of the giants of Italian football, namely AC Milan. The last time Arsenal visited the San Siro they were thrashed 4-0 following a brace from Robinho, and individual strikes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kevin Prince Boateng. A similar result tonight would send the club into complete meltdown, so it’s imperative that the players bounce back from their recent humiliation and record a priceless victory on Italian soil.
There’s no doubt that all eleven players will need to be on top form to record a positive result against a side who are bang in form in Serie A right now, but the performance of Danny Welbeck (valued at £13.5 million by Transfermarkt) could prove to be the most crucial to Arsenal’s success. Welbeck has struggled to achieve a consistent run in the first-team this season due to injuries and the strength in competition at the club, but Aubameyang’s ineligibility and Lacazette’s absence through injury should result in a starting berth for the England international tonight.
If Arsenal want to return to The Emirates with a positive result to shout about, then he will need to effectively hold up the ball and provide at least one moment of quality to help The Gunners grab a priceless away goal. It’s rare that Welbeck gets an opportunity to showcase his talents at the spearhead of Arsenal’s attack, so he must silence his doubters and take his chance to shine at centre-forward against AC Milan this evening.