Milan experience will mean nothing if Arsenal play at their best

Milan experience will mean nothing if Arsenal play at their best

Update: It looks more than likely that Bacary Sagna will not play any part in the game against Milan due to the unexpected death of his brother earlier this week. On behalf of everyone who reads the blog I want to send my best wishes to the Sagna family and Bacary in particular. As someone who has two brothers of my own I can not even comprehend what it would be like to lose one of them at such a young age and hope that Bacary and his family can recover well from the loss. Special thanks to Le Gunner for the heads up on this issue.

As Arsenal’s paper-thin squad prepare for the massive Champions League clash with AC Milan I’ve been quite surprised with the somewhat mellow media reaction to Arsenal’s 4-0 loss to Manchester United on the weekend. Indeed, most football pundits seem to have rather intelligently written off Arsenal’s performance as a one-off and still consider Arsene Wenger’s side to be a strong chance to beat the current holders of the Champions League on Wednesday night. I was expecting something of a backlash but from where I’m sitting it just hasn’t happened and I have to say I’m thrilled to be able to turn my complete attention onto discussing this week’s game without having to look back at that abomination of a performance on Saturday. Huzzah!

Flamini’s return will make a huge difference against MilanThe only man who has been talking about the Manchester United name has been the manager and even he was quick to turn the focus onto AC Milan. Indeed, Wenger correctly admitted that Arsenal were not up to it on Saturday night but also made it clear that he does not expect the result to have any great psychological impact on the side. For the first game in quite a while he also had the pleasure of revealing that no new injuries had been sustained by his squad.

“I am not worried about picking the players up for the Milan game. It is massive match and we have to bounce back quickly from our disappointment. At least we did not suffer any more injuries, so we might be able to find 16 players to face Milan. We will need to be at our best.”

I absolutely agree with the manager. I’m not worried one bit about the players being able to pick themselves up for this one. Each defeat that Arsenal have suffered this season has been followed by a win and that shows how well the players have dealt with the pressure of responding to negative results. While a 4-0 loss at the hands of United will test the players resilience a little bit more than the defeats to Sevilla and Middlesbrough and even the 5-1 thrashing incurred at White Hart Lane did, I’m confident that the boys have the mental strength to respond positively again.

Perhaps even more important is the fact that the four players who I see as the keys to overcoming Milan will surely return to the side after missing the defeat to United. I am of course referring to Mathieu Flamini, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna. Now, while football is a team game and the entire Arsenal squad’s morale will have been impacted by the defeat to Manchester United I strongly believe that the players mentioned above will not be anywhere near as affected as the players who started the game.

In my personal experience as a footballer I’ve never really taken responsibility for a defeat in a game where I’ve not played or been substituted on in an impossible situation and I doubt whether the likes of Flamini and Adebayor will have done either. They will be fired up to prove how important they are to this side and make no mistake, they will make a difference against Milan on Wednesday. The same goes for Clichy and Sagna and also Philippe Senderos, who I expect will debutise in place of Kolo Toure, a player that has been uncharacteristically out-of-sorts both during the African Cup of Nations and since returning from it.

Seedorf thinks Arsenal are too inexperiencedSeedorf questions Arsenal experience

One of the AC Milan players that Arsenal will face on Wednesday, Clarence Seedorf, has unsurprisingly tipped his side to go through because he believes they possess more experience than Wenger’s side. The Dutchman, a player I both like and admire, admitted that Arsenal have been playing exceptionally well this season but also revealed that he expected his Italian club to progress due to their superior experience and cunning. 

“Although Arsenal are one of the best teams in Europe and have been playing very well lately, they lack experience. We know how to handle these occasions. We have experience and we also have cunning, especially when it comes to ties over two legs.”

It’s hard to argue with Seedorf’s comments but at the end of the day experience and cunning will mean nothing if Arsenal can perform to the best of their ability. As I mentioned earlier, with the game at Emirates Stadium and the likes of Flamini and Adebayor plus the two full-backs returning I believe that Arsenal have every chance of doing just that. It seems like every season people question Arsenal’s lack of experience but if you consider Wenger’s likely starting team for the game, pretty much every member of the side has been involved in Champions League football for a number of years and have, in my opinion, more than enough experience at this level.

Maybe the correct word Seedorf is looking for is ‘aged’ rather than ‘experienced’. Just going off on that tangent just a little bit further, when does an inexperienced player become experienced? Do they have to be a certain age or make it to a certain level of a competition? Is a player like Alexandr Hleb experienced? What about Toure? I really don’t know and would like to hear what you think.

That’s about it for today. I sincerely hope all you Arsenal supporters around the world have not copped it too heavy from your Manchester United supporting friends on the weekend and hope you don’t get too much more grief when you go back to work today. If things get a little bit too depressing then I’d encourage you to waste some time by voting for your favourite Arsenal photograph in the Arsenal Opus Competition or to join the Arsenal FC Blog Readers group on Facebook. I guarantee you will not hear a peep about the weekend loss from any Manchester United supporters there. Have a good one.

What do you think?

Have your say on Manchester United and AC Milan by leaving a comment.

27 Responses to “Milan experience will mean nothing if Arsenal play at their best”

  1. gunnershabz
    February 18, 2008 at 6:01 pm #

    i hope we beat ac milan 3-0 and i know we can do it, nesta and kaladze will do the dirty tricks to put adebayor off but i think we will have them and show europe we mean business. i like the way everyone rights us off

  2. Arsenal General
    February 18, 2008 at 6:48 pm #

    I think Arsenal will surely bounce back from the heavy defeat thinking that they have a great chance to turn the defeat to nothing by defeating the European Champions AC Milan.

    Man Utd are just EPL champions but AC Milan who beat Man Utd 3-0 last CL season are the European Champions and by beating them all Man Utd supporters and media’s mouth will be shut and us Arsenal fans will cheer again as we did almost the whole season.

    This is not going to be the 49 unbeaten games season where MU beat Arsenal with some help from the ref and Arsenal went from great to worst in no time. Now we have a better and more matured (yes!) squad which accepts defeats and have the heart of steel to bounce back and get back to a winning run.

    So I guess indirectly MU did a favor for Arsenal by beating them so they will feel more hungry to come back strong in both league and CL. This is what Wenger was thinking too, that’s why he is happeir there was no new injuries after the game than getting sad in the heavy defeat. The players are looking at him and they feel the same too.

    So chill out Gooners, once we beat AC Milan which i hope with a 3-0 score or 2-0 at least then the game againts MU will be forgotten fast!

    Go ARSENAL!!
    Let go your frustration on AC MILAN and in April go to MU and get your revenge on them by winning the title there!

    ARSENAL ROCKS!!

  3. CHIMA DE GENERAL
    February 18, 2008 at 7:04 pm #

    THE DEFEAT TO MAN UNITED IS NO NEWS TO ME COS I EXPECTED THE PLAYRS NOT TO GIVE THEIR BEST BECAUSE OF THE BIG GAME AGAINST AC MILAN.WE HAVE BEEN WRITTEN OFF BY MANY BUT COME WEDNESDAY PEOPLE WILL START TO SING OUR PRAISES AGAIN AND THE SO CALLED BIG TEAMS WILL TIGHTEN THEIR BELTS BECAUSE THEIR EXPECTATION WILL BE TURNED AROUND, MILAN IS A GOOD SIDE NO DOUBT BUT ARSENAL WILL MAKE THEIR SO CALLED EXPERIENCED PLAYERS LOOK LIKE FOOLS COME WEDNESDAY.MARK MY WORD.LONG LIVE ARSENAL! LONG LIVE ARSENAL NIGERIA!! LONG LIVE ARSENAL WORLD WIDE!!!

  4. joseph batte
    February 18, 2008 at 7:27 pm #

    I’m an African Gooner and a regular reader of your log here in Uganda,East Africa. I have to admit the loss was painful, and many Ugandan Gooners are cursing the day Arsene Wenger was born for shaming them(and not strengthening the squad in January)
    I did not feel so pained because I somehow have a feeling Arsene wanted to get out of the FA. That’s why he sent out a weak team against the Mancs. The boys will certainly put their disppointment behind and clober Ac Milan.

  5. Spanish Fry
    February 18, 2008 at 7:54 pm #

    Cursing the day Wenger was born? That’s a bit of an overreaction! Hopefully that statement is just a cultural difference 🙂

    Glad you enjoy reading the blog and as you say, I hope we do clobber AC Milan.

  6. Scope Knight
    February 18, 2008 at 8:05 pm #

    SF,
    I think the overreaction from the ugandans is meagre to what Nigerians are saying.There are over 40 million Arsenal fans in Nigeria alone so your guess is as good as mine when Arsenal lose by such a wide margin. I hope we bounce back. What I can boast of is that no team from Italy has ever knocked us out of the CL.IT WONT START NOW.

  7. RvP Fan
    February 18, 2008 at 8:07 pm #

    What was said about experience isnt the matter, its who delivers on the night. I know what you mean about the experience/age matter, but you can have experienced players not performing. I hate to pick on the man, but Gilberto is a classic. I mean, he has had a great career, but there comes a certain point where age wins over experience, and you become a bit sluggish. Another great one is Andriy Shevchenko, a great “experienced” player, but if starting to struggle on the delivery faze. So, looking at that, the best players to play, would be young-ish players, who have hit their peak, and have played enough football to have the experience on the pitch. To be honest, i woulnt be bothered by Seedorfs comments about experience, the bit we have to focus on is the “cunning”. I like his choice of words.

  8. Josh 5111960
    February 18, 2008 at 8:07 pm #

    Almunia
    Sagna-Toure-Gallas-Clichy
    Hleb-Flamini-Fabregas-Rosicky
    Kingbayor-Eduardo
    Subs:Lehmann-Bendtner-Van Persie-Senderos-Gilberto
    Arsenal 3-AC Milan 0

  9. Spanish Fry
    February 18, 2008 at 8:12 pm #

    Scope Knight – I hope they’re not. I guess it’s difficult for me to get a good idea of how everybody is reacting over in Africa but I’d suggest you guys need to calm down just a little bit. One result like this will not change the season and does not undo all the brilliant work that Wenger has done.

    RvP Fan – Good comments mate. Seedorf’s words about AC Milan being cunning are dead-set correct, as I said, but as long as Arsenal play well I don’t think it will matter. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that Arsenal are now a reasonably experienced side, yet noone seems to realise it.

  10. Cesc Jnr
    February 18, 2008 at 8:12 pm #

    Arsenal are resilient and experienced where it matters. Someone really must tell AC Milan that there is a difference between experience and 36 and 39 year old forwards and left sides defenders. There is experience which Arsenal possess and then just pure old age that Milan possess. Gallas, Toure…Solid experience where its needed. Cesc and Mathieu…solid Work rates and endurance where its needed. Adebayor…solid frame, height and speed where its needed. Sagna and Clichy…solid pace, defensive skills and last ditch tackling where its needed. Hleb and Rosicky…Immaculate midfield support, endurance and ball movement…Eduardo and Van Persie…Nothing more then putting the ball in the back of the net EVERY SINGLE TIME. True finishers. if we dont win the title this year boys…all my manure and chelski supporter friends will never let me play down my incredibly increasing taunts and jibes. DONT LET ME DOWN BOYS!!!!! ANYTHING LESS THEN THE TITLE WILL CAUSE ME TO CONSIDER ENDING MY LIFE….OR JUST BASHING MANURE SUPPORTERS AND WAITING TILL NEXT YEAR AS EXCITED AS A PETTO IN A PLAYGROUND. ARSENAL ARSENAL ARSENAL ARSENAL ARSENAL!!!!!

  11. RvP Fan
    February 18, 2008 at 8:17 pm #

    Thanks,
    On our day, we would “Clobber” any team in the world. Theres only one querie i have, and that is reffering to the lineup that Josh 5111690 has presented: Van persie back? i like the thought :)and whether toure would be replaced by senderos? anyway, we’ll find out in due time!!

  12. Spanish Fry
    February 18, 2008 at 8:33 pm #

    Van Persie will not be back as far as I know. It will likely be Adebayor and Eduardo up front. RVP will not be back for a little while – sorry it got your hopes up!

  13. amiaq_ferguson
    February 18, 2008 at 8:40 pm #

    cant wait for the big game..
    AC Milan midefield is very crowded..
    they attack as dangerous as Arsenal attack..

    but they defend, even better..
    if everyone play at their best, then u can beat AC Milan..
    if you are hoping Fabregas to star the game, then it will become another Man Utd game..

    we need you to knock AC Milan out, becos we are confident of defeating u again in future.. maybe 1-0 is enuff.. ahahh

  14. RvP Fan
    February 18, 2008 at 8:42 pm #

    oh, not really, but it is an exciting prospect, having our top striker back… I would gamble him being back for the second leg…

  15. Le Gunner
    February 18, 2008 at 8:57 pm #

    Before I start I just want to Say COMMISERATIONS to SAGNA for losing his brother who just passed away.I doubt he’ll feature against Milan so will have to do with those useless players Hoyte/Traore.We will see a different Arsenal on Wednesday I’m sure of that so I’m not concerned about the M.utd defeat.I can see what Seedorf means by cunning.Last final Liverpool outplayed Milan but lost on the day and that was due Ancelotti’s cunning tactics. So experience will count for nothing if we get the tactics right and play at our best level.

    I just want to touch on something regarding Gallas kicking Nani.Nani caught showboating and he got a well deserved kick from Gallas.In England if you showboat you get a kick.Lots of pundits were actually pleased when Nani got a kick

  16. C-Bass
    February 18, 2008 at 9:23 pm #

    Experience you say Clarence? Experience? Didn’t you play in your last few Serie A games?

    In both contests you were being outplayed but were saved by one goal each from two youngsters one not more than 16 years old and the other not more than 18 years old and by Kalac’s brilliant saves (who was your number 2 at the start of the season I might add). How’s that for experience?

    Not too shabby.

    If we stay patient and don’t allow ourselves to be frustrated by Milan’s style and antics I see no reason why we can’t end up on top.

  17. gazzap
    February 18, 2008 at 9:28 pm #

    when he says cunning he means cheating right?

    If Liverpool can outplay Milan then Arsenal definitely can! I think Milan sometimes take too much pressure into these encounters. they place too much on winning the CL which may backfire on them.

  18. ArsenalKenya
    February 18, 2008 at 9:30 pm #

    AC Milan youngster Alexandre Pato has shaken off an ankle injury and will be available to play at Arsenal in Wednesday’s Champions League showdown.

    The return of Pato, who has scored four league goals for Carlo Ancelotti’s team since making his debut earlier this year, is good news for the Rossoneri who recently lost Ronaldo for the remainder of the season to a knee injury.

    The 18-year-old missed his team’s last three league games, including Saturday’s goalless draw at Parma.

    The Milan outfit, already without goalkeeper Dida, may also be missing back-up Zeljko Kalac.

    Kalac sustained a hand injury in Sunday’s training and will undergo further tests on Monday to confirm his availability.

    AC Milan striker Alberto Gilardino knows his team have a tough tie ahead of them at the Emirates Stadium.

    “We must play a great game,” admitted Gilardino. “This is a very important encounter for us and we are training well to arrive to the game in the best possible mental and physical form in order to play the perfect game.”

    Milan welcomed back Kaka at the weekend. The Brazil star has recovered from a knee injury having missed two league encounters.

    The European champions will be hoping veteran midfielder Clarence Seedorf is able to shake off an ankle injury in time for Wednesday’s clash.

    COME ON GUNNERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Spanish Fry
    February 18, 2008 at 9:36 pm #

    Thanks for the info on Sagna’s brother Le Gunner. Have updated the blog accordingly. Tragic news.

  20. Mimi Wenu
    February 18, 2008 at 9:45 pm #

    Its been a while but I am glad to be back. As for Saturday, I sort of expected the loss even before kick-off:though not the margin (what with 8+ first team players out with injuries) and that helped me to watch the match quite relaxed.

    I hope we find our tempo and play well on Wednesday. I am afraid that any result less than a 2 goals margin/cushion against MILAN may not be good enough to go through. They are so good at home. It will help our course a great deal If we out-do them in the mid-field and keep to our passing game. If the concentration of back four is not 100% Kaka and Seedorf will make them pay. They take every chance that comes their way. Lest keep hope alive.

  21. arsenal malaysia
    February 18, 2008 at 9:47 pm #

    try no make correction about the past game against MU…I hopeful arsenal will win that day..

  22. Gambia Football Supermarket
    February 19, 2008 at 1:12 am #

    Greetings from the Gambia. Your site is filled with interesting talking points and is very enjoyable

  23. TayGoon
    February 19, 2008 at 1:17 am #

    My thoughts and prayers are with B. Sagna and his family for their Big Loss. RIP Brother.

    SF: On the Ugandan poster,

    I am very familiar with the region and I can assure you, although culture may have a small part in it in terms of Language and expression, that is not what he really felt. There is a tendency to use extremes as if to put more emphasis on a point one is trying to make.Sometimes it is just to invite feedback by evoking emotions on other people although I would have used weaker phrase. I believe what he meant was “Damn, you could have put out a stronger side, AW couldn’t you”.

    Back to football. I love facing “experience”. To me it is just an excuse regularly employed by those who are seeing the writing on the wall, trying to justify that they can still cut the mustard.

  24. Gooner4Life
    February 19, 2008 at 6:00 am #

    Have a little faith Gooners. A bit of kidology from AC Milan there.And anyway if you were going to face your toughest opposition would you concede defeat before the game!Nada!.

    I have been looking forward to this game and I have no doubt it will be a classic. 4get AC Milans stuttering form in the League they will be up 4 this like their life depends on it and so will Arsenal.

    They were days when we played ECL games at Wembley when all Gooners would be holdin on by the seats of their pants and then Batistuta would happen. Today we have quality and unsung class in equal measures all over the park.Trust me if we win this one then maybe we will finally get the respect we deserve. Importantly Arsenal are no longer a predictable one dimensional team.We are a threat playing the ball on the ground, through the middle,at pace and in the air making us unplayable when we hit full throttle.Yes we have lost the threat of a set piec specialist ala RVP for now but we now have 2 genuine world class strikers in Aebayor and Eduardo who on their day will terrorise any defence add Hleb, Fab, Clichy, etc then AC Milan better be warned!

  25. Spanish Fry
    February 19, 2008 at 8:23 am #

    Some nice positivity there. Everything you say is spot on; particularly the bit about Batistuta tearing Arsenal apart while they played at Wembley that one season! It’s funny but that guy is my favourite striker of all time – what a player he was!

  26. Abenezer Yohannes
    February 20, 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    Arsenal win 2-1

  27. Alhaji Gandu
    February 21, 2008 at 12:48 am #

    i hope today arsenal to beat milan to prove to the fans they will doit after beating by man unt.
    we are assure of the players and the manager in general, hope to wife our tear

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