Despite some doubts over how strong a team Arsenal would put out tomorrow night, Arsene Wenger says he’ll start captain Robin van Persie as the Gunners attempt to overturn a four goal deficit.
Speaking at his press conference the boss said, “We want to have a real go tomorrow, we want to make it possible. I would not be very credible to tell you we want to score five goals and then leave Robin van Persie out.
“We will not accept going out of the Champions League because we want to stay in. We will give it our best shot tomorrow.”
The size of the task at hand is illustrated by the fact Arsenal will attempt to do what only three clubs have previously managed in UEFA competition – recover a four-goal first-leg deficit.
Real Madrid CF lost 5-1 at VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup third round, winning the return 4-0, while Leixões SC (against FC La Chaux-de-Fonds, 1961/62 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup first round) and FK Partizan (Queens Park Rangers FC, 1984/85 UEFA Cup second round) overturned 6-2 away losses with 5-0 and 4-0 home victories respectively.
However, Milan themselves hold the record for the biggest first-leg victory overturned in the UEFA Champions League era, losing 4-0 at RC Deportivo La Coruña in the 2003/04 quarter-finals having won 4-1 at home.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have scored 12 goals in their two home games and although scoring enough to qualify is a tall order, it is a game that could restore some pride and further boost our confidence and momentum as we head into the final stages of the domestic season.
Milan keeper, Cristian Abiatti, knows his team have a good advantage but is taking nothing for granted and is well aware of the threat posed by Arsenal’s in-form captain. “It’s not over yet,” he told UEFA.com. “We definitely have a good advantage and we need to make the most of that. But we’ll have to work hard until the end.
“So I think we’ll have to be careful against Arsenal, and especially against him. It’s always nice to come up against forwards of that standard in matches like this. When two big teams play against each other, it definitely provides a spectacle.”