CL first leg. Arsenal vs AC Milan at the Emirates. 7:15 GMT.
Arsenal should take full advantage of the goalkeeping situation in Milan. Dida, the first choice is out with a back injury. Zeljko Kalac, Milan's back up has a dislocated finger and is questionable. Valerio Fiori, the third stringer has not played a competitive game in five years.
Kalac is a bit like Lehmann. He makes great saves but gives away the occasional goal through boneheaded moves. He will start if Ancelotti decides he is match fit but Arsenal should test that theory.
So if I were Arsenal some unexpected hefty swipes at goal amidst all that fine passing would be in order. Arsenal has also successfully surprised opponents by mixing up the long ball using Eduardo's speed up to threaten the goalkeeper. They should do the same through Clichy and Sagna to catch the slower, older Milan defense out of position. Marek Jankulovski has been vulnerable in the past as he has been slower to track back and an adventurous Sagna should be able to exploit that. Oddo does a lot of running up the right flank but fades away as the game goes on. The center of the defense with Nesta and Kaladzhe is Milan's strength and that might prove harder to breakdown especially if Arsenal go down the center. Ancelotti has rotated a lot of his peripheral defenders with Bonera and Favalli also receiving substantial minutes.
Milan's goalstrike might have been more dire if it was not for the late surge by Alexandre Pato scoring 4 goals in his last five apperances and Alberto Paloschi's stunning Serie debut against Siena. Ancelotti's attack has been quite conventional and Milan's 34 goals have forced a number of draws and low scoring wins.
For history buffs, Goal.com has a fascinating account of the last time these two played each other. Actually, the only time they faced each other was in the 1995 European Super Cup final which Arsenal lost 0-2 on aggregate. Milan's coach was Fabio Capello. It was Beauty vs Beast (Sorry, no You Tube highlights available, I'm afraid).
Arsenal had little regard outside of England. Its strength was its tough workman like defence coached by George Graham and led by Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon, and goalie David Seaman. Dull but effective soccer. AC Milan, European powerhouses, one of the most decorated names in the world, boasted artists like Donadoni, Desailly, Savicevic, Baresi, Maldini, Costacurta, Massaro, and Boban. A different time, different coaches, and different approaches.
Today, we have two teams reknowned throughout the world for their artistry. This should be a great game.
As usual you can pretend to work while enjoying all the action at