AC Milan v Arsenal: Mikel Arteta relishing Champions League return to the San Siro
Published 15/02/2012 | 15:44
Arsenal's 29-year-old midfielder believes his side are capable of progressing to at least the quarter final, despite the threat posed by a "very tough" AC Milan side at the San Siro this evening.
Arsenal can feel confident after losing just one group game and winning Group F, but Arteta feels the three Italian sides left in the last 16 still pose a threat.
"Italian sides are very tough and very experienced. If you give them half chances, they take them. We know we cannot make any mistakes over the two legs so we really have to concentrate," Arteta told the club's official website.
"Italian teams have been really successful but in the last few years England have been up there with the best, having three teams in the semi-finals or quarter-finals every year.
“This year it has changed, so it means that Italian teams are really strong again.”
"It won’t be easy and they have some really good players that we need to be careful of, but I think we are capable of going through."
"Scoring a goal in Italy could make a big difference," the Spaniard said.
"So we need to be really concerned about what we do from the first minute, knowing there is a second leg at home and we will have our fans right behind us.
"We are playing a really good team. We need to go with a winning mentality and [know] that we can score goals over there."
Despite stuttering Arsenal's tough task in Italy, Arteta is relishing the opportunity to return to the stadium where he made his debut in the 2001 Champions League for French side Paris Saint-Germain.
"I am really looking forward to it, we know it is a really tough draw but at the same time it is the type of game you want to play at the highest level.
"My first game in the Champions League was at the San Siro, so I have really good memories of it.
"I had been playing for Barcelona reserves 10 days before and suddenly I was playing there, so it was a bit of a shock but it was a really good game.
"It is a terrific stadium, and playing the first leg in Italy will be really important so hopefully we will go there with plenty of confidence.”
In 2008, Arsenal were the first English side to defeat Milan at the San Siro with goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Cesc Fabregas.
"It was a terrific match. I remember the second leg well, and hopefully we can repeat something like that."