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The European Hangover: Can Arsenal progress against AC Milan and Sunderland? The Past Speaks

February 13, 2012

Arsenal are recovering their form after a January blip which saw them drop nine points in the race for fourth place. A 7-1 win over Blackburn, and more recently a 2-1 win over Sunderland means that the club are maintaining their position at the fringes of the European places, in a race which may well define the medium term future of the club, when qualification is considered in terms of the potential for contract renewal of players like Robin Van Persie.

However, the focus now turns to the two remaining cup competitions, the Champions League and the FA Cup. The second round tie against AC Milan in the Champions League kicks off on Wednesday in the San Siro, whilst Arsenal return to the Stadium of Light following Henry’s late winner last weekend, for a cup tie in football’s oldest competition. You can buy Arsenal tickets here for both matches to show your support for the team. However, in the build-up to the two games the key question remains – what effect will these games have on the Arsenal, and is there a pattern in terms of a so-called ‘European hangover’?

AC Milan and the San Siro hold mixed memories for Arsenal, in recent years the club have seen two memorable victories in the sweltering cauldron of the Guiseppe Meazza. Henry scored two against Inter in 2003, as the side who became the Invincibles beat them 5-1 in a surprise away win. Three of the goals that night came in the final five minutes. Henry’s second was particularly notable as he ran the length of the pitch, tricked Javier Zanetti and finished neatly.

Arsenal’s most recent Champions League match up against AC in the San Siro was also a Second Round fixture and ended in a 2-0 victory in 2008, when ex-captain Cesc Fabregas led the scoring, with a wonderful goal from 30 yards out. Meanwhile, four months later Mathieu Flamini would relocate to the San Siro as he left Arsenal’s central midfield berth on a free transfer.

The game in Milan this year will be a challenge for the Arsenal side. In between two away trips to Sunderland this is a rather gruelling week for the players. Though AC have played two games more than Juve, they top Serie A, and this is based on impressive home form, where they have lost just one match and conceded just five goals. Like Arsenal, they came from behind at the weekend, beating Udinese 2-1.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the main threat in terms of goals, and members of this Arsenal side will have experienced his scoring ability, having played against him at Barcelona in the Champions League. The game is bound to be a fascinating encounter, and you still have time to buy your tickets online courtesy of TicketBis.

The European Hangover?

Following the match in the San Siro, the Sunderland match may see Arsenal suffering from a common aliment. The European hangover is a famous phenomenon, and an affliction which is at it’s worst when the game in question is in an away match against a northern team. This is the stuff of nightmares for the Arsenal, which is why the tie at Sunderland becomes even more important.

This season alone, when playing away after a Champions League tie Arsenal have lost 8-2 to Manchester Utd, 4-3 to Blackburn and 2-1 to Tottenham. An aggregate score of 14-6 combined from three of the worst defeats in Arsenal’s recent history.

Even last season during away games after playing in Europe, Arsenal drew 1-1 with Sunderland, lost 2-0 to Chelsea away, though they managed to beat Villa away, they were beaten at home by Newcastle.

However, as a cup game it is likely that Wenger will make some changes to the line-up which should make this interesting. The closest parallel in this case comes last season, where after playing Barcelona, Arsenal drew 1-1 with Leyton Orient away in the FA Cup. The team then faced Manchester United in the FA Cup after the second leg in Barcelona, and lost at Old Trafford 2-0.

How Wenger will cope remains to be seen, what is clear is that Arsenal’s two most likely chances of a trophy are waiting to be taken over the next week, but only if this side can buck the trend. It took a last minute Henry winner to take the points at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, can they do it next week without him? Even more importantly, will they gain the crucial away goal at the San Siro in midweek?

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5 Comments
  1. James Smithson permalink
    February 13, 2012 10:01 am

    Martin will be all fired up for the FA cup.Expect a high tempo game by Sunderland.Don’t forget the cl game coul d have sapped the gunners energy. No matter waht the show must go on..This is the chance for the fringe players to move up a notch.
    There is no reason why the gunners can’t win,maybe after a replay.he thing is Martin’s style is paly it tight and hit on the counter.the gunners must not squander thc hances and stop the passing by a few passes and shoot. Ramsey scored from a rebound.

  2. Bradster permalink
    February 13, 2012 10:13 am

    Wenger needs to play his most attacking team against AC. We need AOC and Walcott to play, Gervinho can fill in on Sunday with Arshavin. I think Rosicky is storming and needs to play and Ramsey can play Sunday.
    Need that away goal cushion. A draw at Sunderland still takes it back to the Emerates.

  3. Ade David, a Nigerian Gooner permalink
    February 13, 2012 11:07 am

    Arsenal on the road in the next 5 days, 2 important matches, all away. The 2 can shape our destiny this season. I am not a lover Serie A. I only watch their big matches. Matches between Milan, Inter, Juve and Roman. Bcos of our matches against them, i started watching them in recent time. Milan is a very good team with a lot of experienced players. They are inform but we can knock them out. We have the pace and faster. I can see Walcott, Ox and Gevinho as the heroes of the 2 legs. For Sunderland game, we can make it too. What d coach needs to do is to rotate. Up Arsenaaal.

  4. ade permalink
    February 13, 2012 5:42 pm

    I hope wenger knws how he is gonna rotate his players in d next 3 matches 2 achieve a result on both occasions..we ve a record in san siro and i dnt see milan breaking d record ds year..in arsene we trust

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  1. Will the Seventy Point Target hold true? Tracking Results: Arsenal’s progress ahead of Everton « ArseSpeak

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