NEWS
Thursday March 8 2018
Line-ups: Milan-Arsenal

Milan field their best XI with Suso, Hakan Calhanoglu and impressive Patrick Cutrone against Mesut Ozil’s stuttering Arsenal.

The first leg in this Europa League Round of 16 kicks off at 18.00 GMT, follow the build-up and action on the LIVEBLOG.

San Siro is practically sold out for this showdown of giant clubs, although Arsenal only sold around half of their 5,000 tickets, as the Wenger Out movement gathers steam.

Arsene Wenger has been on the Gunners bench since 1996 and this has been one of his worst years, almost out of the running for a top four Premier League finish and losing the Carabao Cup Final heavily to Manchester City.

That means winning the Europa League may well be their only hope of qualifying for the Champions League next season, a route Manchester United already took last term.

Arsenal have lost their last four matches in a row to Ostersund, twice to Man City and even against Brighton.

Milan, on the other hand, have been revitalised under Gennaro Gattuso and are unbeaten in 13 competitive games, reaching the Coppa Italia Final and back in the running for a sensational top four Serie A spot.

It’s remarkable considering how badly the Rossoneri were doing at the start of the season under Vincenzo Montella, but also a turnaround because so much was expected of them when spending €200m on the transfer market last summer.

Gattuso has his first choice XI, missing only Mateo Musacchio, Luca Antonelli, Ignazio Abate and Andrea Conti.

Suso and Calhanoglu flank Cutrone, who continues to get the nod ahead of Nikola Kalinic and Andre Silva, because the 20-year-old youth product is comfortably their top scorer this season.

They are rested, because Sunday’s Milan Derby against Inter was called off following the tragic death of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori.

Arsenal have several serious issues to contend with along with their dire form and lack of confidence, as Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal and Alexandre Lacazette are all injured.

It would’ve been a homecoming for ex-Milan youth team player Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but he is cup-tied following his January transfer from Borussia Dortmund.

Danny Welbeck therefore has to start in attack with support from Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jack Wilshere.

It’s a return for Shkodran Mustafi, formerly of Sampdoria, but they sold Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy in January.

This is the first showdown between the two clubs since the 2011-12 Champions League Round of 16, when Milan dominated the first leg 4-0 at San Siro and held on to qualification despite a 3-0 second leg loss.

Arsenal haven’t been into the quarter-finals of a European competition since 2009-10.

Milan: G Donnarumma; Calabria, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Cutrone, Calhanoglu

Milan bench: A Donnarumma, Kalinic, Andre Silva, Borini, Zapata, Montolivo, Locatelli

Arsenal: Ospina; Chambers; Koscielny, Mustafi, Kolasinac; Ramsey, Xhaka, Wilshere; Ozil, Mkhitaryan; Welbeck

Arsenal bench: Cech, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Iwobi, Nelson, Nketiah

Ref: Turpin (FRA)

See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk