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Last Updated: Monday, 3 March 2008, 11:46 GMT
Arsenal tipped to beat Milan
Lee Dixon
By Lee Dixon
BBC pundit and ex-Arsenal right-back

Tuesday's Champions League match between AC Milan and Arsenal is set up nicely after the teams played out a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium in the first leg.

Although Arsenal may feel they should have a lead to protect - and would have done had Emmanuel Adebayor not hit the bar in the closing stages two weeks ago - I still feel they have the advantage.

Emmanuel Eboue challenges Paolo Maldini
Paolo Maldini (right) has been a colossus for Milan for 24 years

But they must not sit back too much at the start of the game and invite Milan on as the Italians have players who are a real threat and if they get an early goal, Milan are quite capable of shutting the game down.

Arsenal played really well in the first game, and although the fans might think a 0-0 draw at home is not such a good result, the players will be pleased with it.

In Europe, it is crucial not to concede at home, and you could say the job is half-done. Milan will have to come out more, which suits a counter-attacking team like Arsenal.

I thought Milan were disjointed in the first leg and their young Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato looked like he had been picked out of the stands and plonked up front because they were a man short.

His compatriot Kaka is an absolutely outstanding player, but he did not link with anyone and seemed to be a one-man show. There seemed to be nothing joining up the midfield and attack and that is something Milan need to do better.

Perhaps they will be more organised at home but they may just play the same way and hope to nick a 1-0 win.


But one thing you normally get from Italian teams is outstanding defending. And Paolo Maldini, at 39 years old, gave another masterclass in the first leg.

I watched the game with my son and I said to him he was watching a living legend. I told him to watch closely and see what positions Maldini takes up - he rarely gets caught out or makes a bad decision, which means he doesn't have to make too many last-ditch tackles.

He also knows how to get the maximum out of his team-mate in front of him, to give him assistance in defending.

There is a deliberate pattern to the way Milan defend: they let you have the ball in your own half and limit your options up front because they leave no space behind them and have numbers back waiting for you when you come forward.

Arsenal must strike the right balance - but they have the temperament, the players and the know-how

Lee Dixon

That makes it very difficult for strikers to break free of their markers because it is very congested in the final third of the pitch.

You cannot really suck the Italian teams out and get in behind them. As we saw at the Emirates Stadium, Milan played a deep defensive line and Arsenal had to play in front of them.

Arsenal will have to be patient at the San Siro and believe that, by continuing to pass the ball around and probe, at some point they will create an opening.

It can be frustrating and they will not get too many chances. But they must not lose their discipline and go chasing the ball at the wrong times because if they do, Milan will be able to punish them when gaps open up as a consequence.

Arsenal must strike the right balance. But I believe they have the temperament, the players and the know-how.

I can definitely see Arsenal scoring but I cannot see Milan scoring twice - and that would be enough to send the Gunners into the quarter-finals.

Lee Dixon was talking to Ian Hughes

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