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Europa League: Arsenal 3-1 AC Milan (agg. 5-1), EPL: Arsenal 3-0 Watford

Europa League

Arsenal 3-1 AC Milan
Aggregate 5-1
Arsenal goals: Danny Welbeck 39 Pen, Granit Xhaka 71, Danny Welbeck 87
AC Milan goal: Hakan Calhanoglu 35

Arsene Wenger's men welcomed their Serie A opponents AC Milan to the Emirates Stadium for the second leg of their Europa League Last 16 after having won the first league tie away at the San Siro 0-2. Recently defeating Watford in the Premier League as well seemed to turn their recent poor form around as the Gunners defeated Milan to cruise through to the quarter-finals with Danny Welbeck’s brace and Granit Xhaka’s strike. Milan’s Hakan Çalhanoğlu opened the match scoring, catching Ospina off guard with a surprising strike from outside the box. Danny Welbeck quickly equalized after winning the penalty in a controversial call by the referee, as he appeared to go down easily under the challenge of Milan’s Ricardo Rodriguez. Granit Xhaka netted thanks to a howler from Gianluigi Donnarumm, before Welbeck put scored again, heading in his second goal. Arsenal’s vital 5-1 victory on aggregate after a hard-fought battle earned them their place in the Europa League quarter-finals. Milan were far more attack-minded in the game and caused problems for Arsenal, but an impressive performance from Arsene Wenger's in form and focused side helped sent them into the last eight of a European competition for the first time in eight years. Premier League team Arsenal will discover their next Europa League opponents in the draw on Friday.

Going in their Europa League Last 16 second leg tie against AC Milan, Veteran Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hoped to win against Milan to continue on the road to Champions League qualification for next season, and to win back disgruntled Gunners fans. Arsenal are set to finish in sixth place in the Premier League this campaign, so right now their main focus is to win the Europa League as their only route to a place in the prestigious Champions League tournament in 2018-19. "We have to look at ourselves and get fans behind us again," said Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal versus Milan pitted the sixth-placed team in the England Premier League against the sixth-placed team in Italian Serie A at Emirates Stadium on Thursday night in the Europa League rather than the Champions League where you might expect the two titan clubs to be competing. Arsenal have come up since their nightmare defeats by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup Final and the Premier League, followed by another loss at Brighton & Hove Albion. The Gunners enjoyed a 2-0 win in Milan last Thursday in the first leg of the last-16 tie. Wenger’s side beat Watford 3-0 at home on Sunday. Attendance was down for Milan’s visit to the sold-out clash at the Emirates Stadium. Many fans stayed away even though they had paid for their seats as part of season-ticket packages. The stadium was half-full for the 3-0 defeat against Manchester City two weeks ago on a bitterly cold night, and roughly two-thirds full for the Gunners match with Watford. “It was early on Sunday,” Wenger said. “I have played in front of sold-out stadiums for 22 years and I am grateful. If there are one or two games and the stadium is not completely full, we have to look at ourselves and get the fans behind us again.”

“Hopefully there won’t be so many empty seats,” midfielder Aaron Ramsey said before the match. “But we’re just focused on trying to win a football game. Hopefully, our performances on the pitch will encourage many to come back.” Arsenal and Wenger hope to regain the trust of the supporters. Milan are working for revival under new manager Rino Gattuso. Arsenal dare not muck it up, particularly as their season has come to rest on this competition. “Europe gives you a psychological problem,” Wenger said. “When you have won away from home, you have to finish the job at home but it is not easy because it always puts the team who is playing against you in the position of having nothing to lose.” Wenger won with his best team from near full-strength ranks; only the cup-tied Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the injured Alexandre Lacazette were missing.

Squads

Arsenal
Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Xhaka, Wilshere; Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck. Subs: Cech, Iwobi, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Elneny, Nketiah.

AC Milan
Donnarumma; Borini, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Calhanoglu, Montolivo, Suso; Cutrone, Andre Silva. Subs: Storari, Bonaventura, Kalinic, Zapata, Biglia, Musacchio, Locatelli.

Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)

England Premier League

Arsenal 3-0 Watford
Arsenal goals: Shkodran Mustafi 8, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 59, Henrikh Mkhitaryan 77

Petr Cech has 200 Premier League clean sheets and giant club Arsenal have won back-to-back games, so things appear to be looking up for the Gunners. Superstar Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech who has kept 200 Premier League clean sheets to date and saved a crucial penalty in the Gunner’s 3-0 victory against Watford at Emirates Stadium. Cech has saved a penalty in the England Premier League for the first time since February 2011, when he was playing for Chelsea against Fulham. Arsenal opened the scoring at eight minutes when Shkodran Mustafi headed in from a Mesut Ozil free-kick, his 50th assist in the Premier League. Just before the hour mark, Henrikh Mkhitaryan played in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who rounded Watford goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis to score the second Gunner’s goal. The visitors had a great chance to strike back but Petr Cech saved Troy Deeney's penalty. Arsenal sealed their much-needed victory when Mkhitaryan scored from the edge of the area with 13 minutes left in the clash, earning his first Premier League goal for the Gunners. Arsenal's first win in four Premier League matches leaves the Gunners in 6th, eight points behind Chelsea in 5th, while Watford drop to 10th place.

Arsenal goalkeeper Cech was relieved to become the first to achieve 200 EPL clean sheets after saving his first penalty for the Gunners. Cech was asked how it feels to keep 200 clean sheets and expressed his relief as his first clean sheet in 12 Premier League matches secured a landmark in the competition. After reaching 199 clean sheets in a 1-0 win over Newcastle United on 16 December, the Cech conceded in each of his next 11 top-flight matches. But the 35-year-old became the first goalkeeper ever to reach 200 Premier League clean sheets on Sunday, while also making a first penalty save in Arsenal colors to reach the double-century in a 3-0 win over Watford.

“It’s been a while and I have to say that it’s never happened that I’ve had to wait 11 games for a clean sheet,” Cech reported on Arsenal's official website. “In the stretch it was quite frustrating at times. Sometimes you go through stretches like that as a team, as an individual, and obviously, you have to find your way out.” Wenger paid a personal tribute to the Czech. "I have a huge respect for consistency," Arsene Wenger said. "It shows a huge level of motivation and intelligence, and he shows plenty of that."

Squads

Arsenal
Cech, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Mustafi, Kolasinac; Elneny, Xhaka; Ozil, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang. Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Willock, Nelson, Wilshere, Nketiah

Watford
Karnezis, Femenía, Prödl, Mariappa, Holebas; Doucouré, Capoue; Janmaat, Pereyra, Richarlison; Deeney. Subs: Bachmann , Britos, Hughes, Carrillo, Sinclair, Gray, Okaka.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Buy Arsenal tickets now for the Premier League and Europa League securely online from LiveFootballTickets.com! Coming up next for Arsenal in the Premier League on April 1, Arsenal host Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium. Check back on this site for the Gunners’ Europa League schedule.

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