AC Milan 0 Arsenal 2
Mkhitaryan 15, Ramsey 45+4

Not many would have predicted the outcome of Arsenal’s Europa League last 16 first leg clash at the San Siro. Coming into the tie, four consecutive defeats on the bounce, poor form and rumours of dressing room splits had not contributed to the best preparation at the home of one of the European football’s giants. However from somewhere, the Gunners began to fire and fired themselves into a two goal first half lead. Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored his first Arsenal goal, initially winning back possession before smartly finishing off from Mesut Özil’s pass, and with a deflection off Milan skipper Leonardo Bonucci. In first half stoppage time, the German was at it again, this time finding Aaron Ramsey following some pacy play out from Danny Welbeck.

With just Milan keep Gianluigi Donnarumma in front of him, the former Wales captain calmly took a touch to go around him before finishing into the empty net. The seven time European champions had a chance to get on the scoresheet, but Giacomo Bonaventura could only spoon his effort over the bar. Welbeck and Mkhitaryan had further chances to increase the first half lead, the Armenian hitting the bar after some more good work, but Arsenal held on to take a good lead going into next Thursday’s second leg at the Emirates.

Before that, Watford arrive at the Emirates in Sunday’s lunchtime kick off. The Gunners will be fired up to right the wrong at Vicarage Road earlier in the season when having taken the lead, the Hornets rallied to claim a famous win. Arsene Wenger hopes the Milan result will spark his side back to winning ways.

“Hopefully that game in Milan has restored and rebuilt our confidence and desire and that you’ll see a positive performance (against Watford)”

Wenger was especially pleased to see his side respond after some very demoralising results of late.

“When you are low in confidence it’s difficult to attack well and I give credit to the team for that. They didn’t hide, they went in a positive way in the game. They didn’t just try to defend well, they had the courage to play as well,” said Wenger.

The Carabao Cup loss to Manchester City, then another loss to the same side by the same 3-0 scoreline at home and last Sunday’s loss at Brighton were all tough to take acknowledged Wenger.

“When you lose a cup final in the middle of the season and play against the same opponent three or four days later, you have more chances to lose the game, no matter who you are, than to win it. We faced a storm after we lost the cup final but we lost against Man City who are dominating the Premier League at the moment and it’s always difficult to put things into perspective.

“That’s why, at some stage, it’s not about feeling sorry for yourselves. Even though you’re disappointed, you have to stick together and show who you are – and find the resources that are linked to your pride and with your refusal to lie down. I think there is some aspect of our performance (against Milan) that is down to that.”

Whatever transpires from now until the end of the season, Wenger will hope to keep,his players fired up to finish the season strong and then deal with the consequences of whatever may come his way in the summer.