Arsenal put their current issues to the other side as a brilliant execution against fallen mammoths AC Milan gave them the high ground in their Europa League round of 16 tie.
The Gunners touched base at the San Siro at seemingly the lowest point of manager Arsene Wenger’s 22-year rule yet reacted to a streak of four straight defeats with a certain and controlled show against their Italian hosts.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first goal for the club put the Premier League side ahead, slicing in from the left to fire in with the aid of a deflection off Milan captain Leonardo Bonucci.
Wenger talked before the game about his group demonstrating fight without affecting their attacking standards – and they conveyed in a prevailing first-half display.
Aaron Ramsey deservedly doubled their lead before half-time, gathering Mesut Ozil’s penetrating pass the focal point of Milan’s defense to round goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and tap in the ball inside the Milan goal.
Milan attempted to up the rhythm after the break, squandering an unmistakable early opportunity to pull one back when Giacomo Bonaventura spooned over the bar.
However, Arsenal were to a great extent unruffled from that point on, constraining the home side to half possibilities with a strong defensive exertion.
The two away goals now make the Gunners firm top choices to achieve the last 8 after next Thursday’s second leg at Emirates Stadium.
“Overall it is important to win, but it is not qualification. We have to finish the job at home. I am happy with the spirit and response we gave,” said Wenger.
“We were not in a position to take risks, but we could not be too cautious as you lose fluidity. We defended with resilience until the end.”