AC Milan 4 Arsenal 0

It was a slaughter, but not so much of the innocent, but of the mediocre. Actually mediocre may be too good an adjective to describe an Arsenal side, who were actually poor throughout their Champions League last 16 first leg clash with Milan at the San Siro. The worst European performance under Arsene Wenger, who now faces fresh calls for him to either reinforce a side that lacks experience, or to step aside for a fresh approach. If the latter is the path chosen, then perhaps the Arsenal Board could also do the honourable thing and resign en masse.

Task

On a heavy pitch, Arsenal were systematically taken apart by a Milan side who had the inspired Zlatan Ibrahivovic pulling all their strings. From the moment Kevin Prince-Boateng put the Serie A side ahead, Arsenal failed to grasp the enormity of the task ahead, and in all honesty looked as if the occasion had caught up with them. Robinho headers are a rarity, as has been an Arsenal defence with all personal playing in the right places. However, Thomas Vermaelen had possibly his worst performance in an Arsenal shirt, Laurent Koscielny was replaced just before the break with a calf injury, and the returning Kieran Gibbs was out of his depths.

Sweat

Inexplicably, Bacary Sagna decided to switch off with Ibrahimovich running to the byeline for Robinho to head in. Wojciech Szczesny had hardly broken sweat, with his hair still immaculately coiffured. 2-0 at the break, and five minutes after the re-start, Robinho made the best from Vermaelen’s slip up to fire past Szczesny, and by the time Johan Djourou collided with Ibrahimovic to give away a soft penalty the Sweden striker scored from, the task already difficult was to become too monumental for the Gunners for the second leg at the Emirates on March 6th.

Afford

Arsenal may have chances from Robin Van Persie, but an away goal was a luxury not to be afforded to Wenger, who elected to keep Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench until the second half when the damage had already been done. Had he started, surely the 18 year old would have been more of a threat than Theo Walcott.

Failings

It would not have been the send off Thierry Henry had envisaged, a 4-0 drubbing was not how he wanted to re-pay Wenger, but the harsh truth of the matter is that the underinvestment from recent seasons has come to bite Arsenal and hard. Wenger can no longer do things on the cheap and expect to cover the Board’s financial failings. Bar an extremely unlikely miracle, Arsenal are out of this season’s Champions League. Saturday’s FA Cup trip to Sunderland now represents a massive game the Gunners’ season and for Wenger who will wonder why the clamour for the signing of experienced like Gary Cahill, Chris Samba and Juan Mata was so loud. Left out on the San Siro turf after this 4-0 drubbing, and Wenger has his answer.