Wenger confirms van Persie start against Milan


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.”


    • O my! It’s 3-0 after 45′ of the return leg and we couldn’t have dreamed of a better start!

      El Shaarawy’s attempt just before half-time was a warning, though. In the words of Gary Neville: “Just DEFEND, Arsenal! You’ll get your chances!.” If the team does that, then I’ll be the first back here to hold my hand up.

      Come On You Gooners!

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    • It is not the same. We are playing for pride here, we were humiliated in Milan, worst game in 20 years in Europe.

      We have an outside chance, this Milan side is not the greatest side, we were that bad and made them look good. If we stand a chance, I know it is as close to impossible as it gets, we need RVP to play.

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      • I totally agree. I just have this irrational fear that he might get crocked in the process in this particular game.

        No idea why.

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  1. Nice platitudes there Abbiati.

    We all know we didn’t play to our potential, or anywhere near it, in Milan. Since then though, we have had a cracking home victory against Tottenham SoontobeFourth. And ended Liverpool’s chance of CL football next year.

    We can do this. 2 – 0 at half time will set it up nicely. COYG!!!!

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    • That’s actually not terribly far from the super-attacking formation I’ve heard bandied about:
      Sagna Verm Kos Gibbs
      Song Rosicky
      Wolcott Gerv

      I like the audacity of the attack that could come from this team. Who knows? …That said, I agree that it seems an unnecessary risk to put van Persie out there in this game. I’d love to eat my words on this one, though!

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  2. AND not to concede, which is what worries me. Milan can always be beaten with pace down the flanks, which is why they fucked up their pitch’s wide areas. We can definitely score goals against them, the question is can we simultaneously keep them out.

    Hoping and praying for a miracle though!


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  3. If we can pull this off Arsene will be nominated for sainthood!

    It will be nice to show the real Arsenal on a proper pitch befitting a Champions League knockout round match! Milan should be ashamed of themselves for subjecting our players to their dirt pile.

    Let us all pray for the health and safety of RVP.

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  4. so it looks like the strongest possible lineup would be:


    with the following subs available:
    fabianski, jenkinson, chamakh, afobe, miquel, djourou? yennaris?

    the little russian, frustrating as he was, might have been very useful for this one!

    i hope we really go for it. milan as not nearly as good as we made them look in the first leg and confidence is high right now…

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  5. He’s been a trooper this season. Considering the fact that the media regard him as our most injury prone player; he hasn’t been injured once since January 2011 if I’m correct. Despite the fact he is in the dreaded “Red Zone” Arsene speaks of. Plus, he continues to do his job so well on a regular basis.

    Let’s just hope it the decision to over use him doesn’t come back to haunt us.

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  6. Wenger could play this 4-4-2 formation:

    Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs;
    Oxlade Chamberlain, Song, Rosicky (if fit enough), Gervinho;
    Walcott, Van Persie

    This formation can easily change to a 4-3-3 during the match with Van Persie dropping off into the AM role OR Chamberlain moving to the AM role with Gervinho moving forwards to form the left of a front three – this will allow fluidity and can be done when we may be getting outnumbered in midfield.

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    • Why not 3-2-5? Playing 4-4-2 won’t get you anywhere against an Italian club playing a 7-2-1 formation. Seriously, what do we have to lose?

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  7. As it stands, we have very little option in the midfield. AOC is my choice for the AM role, the lad has got good passing ability and can power home shots from range. We must be clinical with our chances and ensure they don’t score. Go gooners, it has been done to them before, it can happen again.

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  8. Wenger really is setting himself up to be crucified here. The shitheads who hate him will be licking their lips at the prospect of a Van Persie injury.

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    • Sorry, no one hates Wenger so much that they would wish injury to Captain Vantastic. But you’re right in one respect–if he gets injured we WILL crucify AW.

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  9. Hi Guys

    I hope you dont mind me intruding and all that. Even though I’m a spuds fan I just wanted to say how much I respect Arsene for all that he’s done for Arsenal,and for English football in general. I also want to pay tribute to the resilience and style with which you Gooners have responded to a season which has had, let’s face it, a fair share of adversity and criticism for AFC, and I think I speak on behalf of the whole of Shite Hart Lane.

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    • Are you actually a Sp*rs fan?!

      Because that’s blown my perception of you out of the water. I never thought I’d see a respectful spud.

      If you truly do support “them” from the nation of Haringay, then we say Thank you very much for your compliment. But we’d still be happier if you could leave 3rd place for us.

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  10. Sorry folks, it’s a bullshit decision to play RVP, and risk injury, in what will be a meaningless game. Why meaningless? Because, when you turn on the game tomorrow, or show up at the Emirates, you are going to see a nice shiny yellow bus sitting in front of Milan’s goal.

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    • Sorry CA, but bollocks to you! IF we somehow manage to get back in the tie, it could be one of the greatest European nights in history. It’s a big if, but FFS do you really want The Arsenal to just lay down to the morally suspect Italians, especially after their antics with the pitch at their place.

      I’d have a lot less time for the club if they were willing to just bow out like a bunch of pussies. I hope they live up to Wenger’s word, and go full throttle from the off.

      The boys will go down in history if they pull this one out of the bag.

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      • I don’t want Arsenal to lay down.but–not to indulge in any ethnic stereotypes–Italian footballers know how to park the bus. With a four-goal bulge, why should they try to play an entertaining–read open–game?

        If I turn out wrong, I’ll be the first to say bollocks to me!

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      • I’d agree – let’s play our youth and reserves and still go for it. Chamakh. Park. Afobe. Let’s play a fucking 4-3-4 with no keeper. No, I’m not joking. Bundle the ball in with your teeth, I don’t care. I’d like a victory, but I’d prefer 3rd place in the EPL.

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      • @CAGooner.

        Well I’ll do the stereotypes then.
        Let’s hope it’s an Italian bus and breaks down before they get to park it properly.

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    • I suspect that RvP won’t be running out for the second 45 mins if we’re not up 2-nil by half time…

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  11. I have a feeling wenger is gonna use Afobe… wasn’t in the reserve team today… how sweet would it be if he helps RVP and bangs in a couple goals tomorrow?!

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    • Well he definitely won’t be using Chamakh or Park. Arsene’s already come out and said, “Maybe I will play with six strikers as we have to score goals!”

      Boom boom pow!

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  12. For all those questioning Arsene’s decision; hands up who is part of his backroom team or the medical team…. Any one?

    I’m guessing he hasn’t just thought to himself “here we go, lets throw our best player on who may well be getting tired and see what happens”. It may be that he has actually spoken to the player, his team and his medical staff to come to this decision.

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    • Yes,just after he has said we have had a team meeting and decided not to
      give up ……. Just before Milan game.
      Walk the Walk don’t Talk the Talk

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  13. My Guess will be a completely different shape to start within nothing to lose and everything to gain. 4:2:4 or even 3:3:4 and see what happens in first 20/30 mins. 😉

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  14. I’d actually be happy wiv a 2 or 3 goal win, for simple reason being we aint gonna win da champions lge, the invinvibles couldnt win it pre- messi barcelona so we hardly gonna win it now. seriously a 5-0 win wld giv a great boost no doubt, but if we get barca in next round(again!!), then another hammering from them will do far more damage to remainder of season.
    pinching 3rd place this year wld giv whole club a boost in comparison to one result tomorrow nite, we can then try have a good summer in market as opposed to sitting idly by until last day sales

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  15. tell you guys.lets have a discussion. does AC Milan game have an impact on league form? I think losing to AC wouldn’t change anything.we are out already according to the way things are.I would like us to progress to uefa final but as we all know it ain’t happening. sometimes I just get fed up with our expection each season. they keep on getting lowered.

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    • Winning breeds confidence. If we win 1-0 then at least it’s something but after the Spurs and Liverpool games, losing tonight would just be another set back to our clearly brittle confidence.

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  16. If Van Persie stays two more seasons, injuries & form permitting, he will become Arsenals 2nd highest goal scorer ever. An extra season on top of that, injury, form and age permitting, he could become Arsenals all time highest goalscorer.

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  17. I’d personally be annoyed if we didn’t play Robin. Yeah we’re probably not going to qualify but we have to go for it, I’d be happy (well, you know what I mean) to loose this tie 4-3. We’re on a great little run, won two games nobody really expected us to and we have to keep the momentum going. A win against AC could really be the catalyst for the final stretch of the season, and the team really owe it to the fans for the torrid display in Italy. And to win, Robin needs to play.

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    • You are absolutely correct in your analysis.
      Unfortunately I suspect that Milan may well spot the obvious tactical play in this game, which is to go in “dirty” on RvP whenever a player lacking a yellow card gets the opportunity.

      I’m worried.

      If that starts happening, Wenger needs to spot it and get him off. Sharpish. He’s more important to us than the game is.

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  18. I think our main priority should be our positioning in the PL. Finishing 3rd would be the best way to restore our pride. The chances of us beating Milan with 4-0 are pretty slim, and I do think that we should rest those players who need it.

    Resting Arteta, yes, but Robin? He’s been looking anything but tired in the recent couple of games. And there’s plenty of time to rest after this game. There’s a difference in focusing on the PL and giving up this Milan game all together. We should put our strongest side out there tonight. Come on Arsenal!

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  19. I was at the Emirates when we beat Barca with the former little russian ace.
    It was the best atmosphere I’ve experienced there.
    I hope for whoever is going that they get a night as special as that tonight!

    Come on Gooners, support with your heart and who knows!!

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  20. Win it for Jack!

    Oh, and Abou

    And Andre. Not to forget Per, Squilaci and Yossi. As well as Aaron and Johann and Frimmers! And of course – Le Coq.

    In fact all we really need is a goal dedicated to each of our injured first teamers and we’re looking at a cricket score.

    Perfect motivation there, then

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  21. Hi guys.
    I’m a Crystal Palace fan, and every time I hear a Arsenal fan moan, I want to vom up my lungs, lets face it 90% of your fan base has only been supporting you since the PeTIT Overmars era. I overheard a Arsenal fan chatting to his friend outside Starbucks, whilst drinking a hazelnut Latté saying that he might start supporting Man City for a while, ‘cos he likes the way David Silva plays, I felt like choking him with his man-bag.
    Modern Football will kill itself.
    Love n Light

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    • oh man, are you saying there’s something *wrong* with the broad based tiki-taka portfolio approach to soccer consumption? that fandom isn’t all about sky sports on my iPad? that following Jack Wilshere on twitter isn’t the final word in being a supporter? that aligning my brand choices with the commercial activities of Arsenal (or indeed whoever I am following this week) doesn’t actually make me just like my heroes? that being able to quote amy lawrence in teh grauniad isn’t the only pre-requisite to be a gooner?


      on the other hand, the eagles really spunked it against cardiff in the league cup semis, so i can see why you’d want to take it out on some jonny come lately latte quaffers playing at being gunners.

      of course we have some flaky support, it’s what happens when your team plays fucking ace football and moves to a massive new stadium. i mean god help us when we get around to actually winning shit again, we’ll be drowning in faux fandom.

      still, rather that than fighting off relegation to the third division every season, or going into administration thanks to an orange chairman. or whatever it is that keeps palace busy these days.

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      • “fucking ace football” lord give me strength.
        Of course Palace are shit, they probably will always be shit, and the fact you use that in your argument goes to show that you genuinely don’t understand what football is about, you cravet wearing cunt-nugget.

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      • deary me, you must be one of those palace youngsters who can’t remember ian wright coming back from a broken leg and fucking over man utd

        clearly “the team of the 80s” was before your time as well. not that they lasted very long.

        either way, i’m sorry my response flew over your head, like one of atillo lombardo’s hollywood balls.

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  22. oh and…
    My elderly neighbour has alzheimer’s and she still has more of a footballing brain than Walcott.

    Drop beats not bombs

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  23. segna quando vuole! segna quando vuole!
    Robin Van Persie, segna quando vuole!

    I looked it up in Google translate.
    Let’s give them some tonight. COYG!

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  24. If you want perfection then by all means go and watch Arsenal, for example. But is it art? To my mind, watching Arsenal has all the attraction of watching a piece of technical drawing. But the way Paddy Mcartney looks up before he sweeps the ball out for a throw in… now that’s real quality. He is a master of his art.

    •Palace are the New York Dolls to Arsenal’s Elaine Paige
    •We are The Young Ones to Arsenal’s To The Manor Born
    •We are Hurricane Higgins to Arsenal’s Steve Davis
    •Palace are ice creams with flakes on the beach to Arsenal’s Ferrero Rocher at Stuffy Diplomatic Receptions
    Maybe more people would choose the Arsenal options in that list, but they would be utterly wrong.

    Given the drama and unpredictability of it all, I can’t believe Palace isn’t sold out years in advance. No scriptwriter could come up with anything more unlikely or that would keep you guessing to the last page of every chapter.

    In just over a decade since I first bought a season ticket we’ve seen promotion achieved by coming back from 3-1 down; the most thrilling FA Cup semi final in history; five trips to Wembley including a last minute defeat and a last minute victory in consecutive seasons; a divisional championship; three relegations; three chairmen, all in their own sweet ways deranged egomaniacs; somewhere in the region of 11 managers (if you dont count Noades and a few other five minute wonders) one of whom did the job three times and three others who did it twice; bankruptcy, administration twice and salvation; a last gasp escape from relegation; and four other major semi-finals (all against either Liverpool, Man U or Arsenal).

    We’ve gone almost an entire season without winning at home, we’ve seen Ian Wright, Salako and Staunton all score from the halfway line, we’ve had Lombardo AND Craig Foster… in the same team!!!! We’ve taunted Fatboy Miller and hero-worshipped some of the worst players known to mankind.

    And don’t forget Tomas Brolin’s size 42 shorts, being linked with Maradona, the disappearing Argentinians, the Israelis who couldn’t play football, Venables and Fenwick, the Cantona Kung-fu kick, Fan Zhiyi’s assaults on referees, Brucie missing a last minute FA Cup penalty v Nigel Martyn who was then cheered off, a £2.75m centre half being outjumped by Carl Leaburn, Iain Dowie’s smile, Dean Gordon’s last minute shot v Derby and the abject terror of Riccardo Fuller when he came on as sub against Wolves… and that’s just bits and bobs I can remember off the top of my head.

    We’ve taken more **** in the last three years than most fans will take from their clubs in a lifetime. We’ve celebrated a 1-0 win at Norwich with more passion that ten times as many Arsenal fans could muster for winning three trophies. Our fans have got more wit and passion than anyone in the league and are mostly nice people with it, not thugs or arrogant Premiership prima donnas.

    Crystal Palace is cult viewing, like a late night TV show that only a few people know about, like a precious record that was never number one but makes everybody who knows it want to dance and sing… and sometimes cry.

    To have seen the way Geoff Thomas ran like a duck, to have seen Mark Dennis’s haymaker aimed at Gazza that would have floored Tyson, to have seen us win at every top ground in the country and lose at Hartlepool, to have seen The Ninja put his elbow into Keown’s face, to have seen Dougie leave Stockport’s defence on its arse, to have seen Stevie throw his jacket into the crowd, to have seen Butch Wilkins last half an hour; to have felt an explosion like dynamite under your feet when Dave the Mod tucked home that penalty against Blackburn, to have been there when Pembo set off on his mad run, or when we won a penalty shootout 6-5 having missed five pens in a row before that… money couldn’t buy those things. Except money does buy it… a Crystal Palace season ticket is the best investment we’ll ever make.

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    • a superb answer to the question “when a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound if there is nobody there to hear it?”

      and you never had gus caesar. the bitterness runs deep, and it shows. but, still

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