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Article:Cannonballs: Nil-Nil, It Works For Me

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Emmanuel Adebayor hits the cross bar in injury time.

Yesterday saw Arsenal return to Champions League play at the Emirates. The Gunners faced AC Milan in their first game in the knockout stage. What ensued was a very nervous and tedious nil-nil draw. Going into the match I was of the opinion that job 1 for boys in red shirts and white sleeves was keeping a clean sheet against the Italian giants. Given that point of view I reminded myself that nil-nil was not a bad result at all. No away goals for AC Milan means that the return leg at the San Siro will see Arsenal at a slight advantage. After reading a few reviews of the match this morning I learned that no English club has ever beaten AC Milan at the San Siro. Arsenal though do have experience at winning in that stadium. Arsenal has beaten, nay thrashed, Inter Milan in the San Siro a few years back. Arsenal do have a history of winning in stadiums that English clubs traditionally do not do well in, the Gunners are the only English club to have won at the Bernabeu beating Real Madrid. So given all of that I am feeling confident that the second leg in Milan will see Arsenal confident that they can get the result.

Another positive was the fact that the team bounced back after being thoroughly beaten at Old Trafford the previous weekend in the FA Cup. Yes I paid my $10 to watch that match at the local pub and yes I did take a verbal bashing from all the Manchester United fans there. Fair enough United were the better team on that day and I can take my medicine. A defeat like that one sometimes can have lingering effects so it was paramount that the boys come away from the Milan game with something positive. From my vantage point Arsenal were the better team so it looks as if the debacle at Old Trafford has been put behind them.

The best chance for the Gunners came in injury time in the second half. Emmanuel Adebayor was able to get his head to the ball on a cross provided by Theo Walcott but his effort was met firmly by the cross bar thereby maintaining the 0-0 scoreline. Kolo Toure was lost early on in the game and it appears he will be out for some time as he seems to have come down with a case of Van Persieitis. Philippe Senderos came on to replace Toure and I must say that he and William Gallas were very effective at shutting down the Milan attack. Pato and Kaka were really not all that threatening and never really looked like they were going to score.

A nice return to the pitch for Arsenal so things seem to be back on track. This weekend sees the Gunners face Birmingham City at St. Andrew's. A win will see Arsenal go 8 points clear of Manchester United in the league table as United play a bit later in the day. For my money this is an important match as the Gunners need to pay back Birmingham for their very annoying draw that they achieved against Arsenal earlier in the season.


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