Champions League preview: How Arsenal can beat Milan – with help from their worst enemies

ZonalMarking.net's Michael Cox uses the StatsZone app – from FFT and Opta, available now – to preview Wednesday night's Champions League action...

Zenit St Petersburg v Benfica (Wednesday 5pm GMT)Zenit once more face Portuguese opposition, having just about overcome Porto in the final matchday of the group stage. That win was rather fortunate, after an incredible game when Vyacheslav Malafeev managed to keep a clean sheet despite Porto having 24 attempts, while Zenit barely threatened.

The Russian league leaders have been robbed of the services of Portuguese playmaker Danny through injury, and it will be interesting to see what their strategy is throughout this tie. Usually they depend heavily on the break, but Danny is a large part of that. Do they sit back at home knowing they’ll be under huge pressure at the Estadio Da Luz, or play a more proactive game?

Milan v Arsenal (Wednesday 7.45pm GMT)Good news for Arsenal: Milan are slow at the back and narrow in midfield. As a result, they’re particularly vulnerable to pace down the flanks, which should play perfectly into the hands of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Walcott, on the right, will have the added benefit of support from a natural full-back in the shape of Bacary Sagna, whereas Oxlade-Chamberlain might have to make do with Thomas Vermaelen out of position. Therefore, it’s down the right that Arsenal must look to attack, and Walcott could do worse than get in touch with his England team-mate Aaron Lennon for some advice.

Visiting Milan at this same stage last year, Tottenham focused their attacks down the right with Lennon receiving plenty of passes on the flank – and a late break saw him setting up Peter Crouch for the winner.

It’s easy to imagine Walcott doing the same for Robin van Persie. Not only has the Dutchman finished 10 of Walcott's last 11 assists, but the young Englishman has already grabbed an assist at the Guiseppe Meazza, setting up Emmanuel Adebayor in Arsenal’s 2-0 win at Milan back in 2008.

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