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Stuart Dalgleish 14th Feb 2012 - 18:46

It’s the beginning of the end again for Arsenal

AC Milan v Arsenal preview - Wednesday 19:45 live on ITV1

Out of the title race, out of the Carling Cup, tough fixtures to negotiate in Europe and the FA Cup, Gunners fans are getting that all-too-familiar feeling again - their season is petering out.

They have not been helped by a seemingly never-ending injury list, but the simple fact of the matter is that Arsenal's squad is not good enough to compete on multiple fronts anymore, like Manchester United and Chelsea have done season after season. (Although admittedly they're both struggling to do that this year too).

It could still end up being a successful season for the Gunners if they can win the two cups that they're still in, but they always seem to come up short when facing a real European powerhouse.

Outplayed for two successive seasons by Barcelona, they now have to make their way past one of the best teams in Champions League history in the shape of AC Milan (11/10).

Milan are inconsistent at the minute, but they're still very much in the title mix and have a semi-final second leg in the Coppa Italia to play at the end of March.

History is on Arsenal's (11/4, draw 21/10) side for this massive clash, they have won on their previous two Champions League visits to the San Siro, stuffing Inter Milan 5-1 and progressing past Milan in a 2-0 success a couple of years ago.

A certain Frenchman bagged a hat-trick in their mauling of Inter, and it's 50/1 that Thierry Henry (8/1 first goal) leaves his beloved Arsenal behind in style by grabbing another treble.

The man of course most likely to pounce for the Londoners though is Robin van Persie (13/2); the Dutch ace just continues his phenomenal season, he has smashed in 32 goals for club and country in just 36 appearances this campaign.

If you think Arsenal are going to get something out of this, then our Match Winner offer is really going to appeal - we've enhanced the price on Van Persie scoring in an Arsenal win from 5/1 to 7/1, when you think of the amount of times that eventuality has happened this season then it's surely worth a few quid.

Personally, I'm not sure Arsene Wenger's men are going to get anything from their Italian job, I think the Rossoneri will prove too strong in this first leg.

One of the reasons Milan should dominate is the power of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9/2 first goal), the big Swede has his critics and can be sulky, but he's hitting the back of the net on a regular basis and he also has previous with Arsenal having notched twice at the Emirates for Barcelona two seasons ago.

He has a personal honours list that envies anyone outside of Manchester and Barcelona, winning league titles for eight consecutive seasons as well as several cup successes along the way.

The Champions League still eludes him though, and you can bet your bottom dollar he will be determined more than ever to win it with Milan to get one over Pep Guardiola and the Barca hierarchy.

We have several scorecast markets that can just boost your goalscorer bets; Ibra first goal and Milan to win is 7/1, while to play it a bit safer you can get 21/10 on an anytime goal in a Milan win.

I can't see it being a real high-scoring thriller, and I'm going to be cautious with a correct score shout - 8/1 on 2-1 Milan looks a great price, and with first legs often been cagey affairs the double result of draw/Milan at 9/2 could be worth a punt.

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