Mkhitaryan scores his first goal as Arsenal beats Milan 2-0

Harold Cunningham  Getty Images Sport

Mkhitaryan scores his first goal as Arsenal beats Milan 2-0

That's probably the most important takeaway from Arsenal's Thursday night victory over AC Milan in the first leg of the Europa League Round of 16 fixture.

Despite improvement, Gennaro Gattuso's days at the Rossoneri seem numbered and they are already eyeing his replacement. Everything's still open. What did Gattuso tell us after the game? While a Henrikh Mkhitaryan shot into the side netting signalled the visitors' intent to take the game to their hosts, a responding effort from Patrick Cutrone was a reminder of Arsenal's frailty in defence.

"Serie A is inferior [compared to the sides Milan have to face in this stage]?" While not in itself a particularly catchy football chant, it contains a fair bit of truth. "The difficulty in this job is to be capable to go periods where it very hard".

"This doesn't mean we lack the qualities, but there are players structured in a very different way from ours".

Arsenal could not match Milan's drive and energy epitomized by Boateng and Robinho not forgetting the killer passes Ibrahimovic provided time and again including the great run he made to cross the ball for Robinho to head in for Milan's second goal. Will the occasion prove too much for a team that hasn't been to a European quarter-final since 2010?

City also saw off Arsenal in a league meeting while Ostersund and Brighton have recorded wins over Wenger's side in that time.

As such, Wenger does not take criticism personally from supporters who once idolised him. "It was my first goal for Arsenal and I am very happy, but I have to keep doing the same now".

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Perhaps the biggest pointer for Arsenal was the performance of the midfield.

The Gunners have been in terrible form lately, having lost their last four matches in all competitions prior to their trip to the San Siro, including a awful home display against Ostersunds two weeks ago. "It's not the person they hate, they hate the manager who doesn't deliver the performance", he said.

Asked if the win was just what Arsenal needed, he replied: "Yes, and what we wanted especially".

Wenger has presided over a miserable campaign that threatens to bring a painful end to the Frenchman's near 22-year spell in north London. They're not just standing still, they're going backwards and they are not good to watch. Grant Xhaka has looked completely lost as a sole holding midfielder but he benefited from having a disciplined Aaron Ramsey alongside him, while Jack Wilshere pushed on purposefully in a midfield three.

"Every time they attacked, they could have scored".

'Maybe he tried to explain that you need to play at a high level in this league. And automatic qualification to the Champions League would go a long way in that direction.

Arsenal were particularly adept at controlling the space given to them in the centre of the pitch by Milan throughout the first half. Your guess is as good as mine.

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