Andrei Arshavin says that Arsene Wenger’s decision to leave attackers on the pitch during last season’s home game against Barcelona paid off in the form of sparkling wine produced in one particular French region.
Speaking to the official site, the Russian said, “We were 1-0 down and we had to break down Barcelona. The boss took a risk and left six or seven offensive players on, and if you take a risk you drink champagne. I think every player wants to be on the stage like this.”
Arshavin has struggled this season, caught in the crossfire of bad form and an untimely Wenger substitution, but his assist for Henry’s Sunderland winner was his third in recent times and perhaps a sign that he can contribute for the remainder of the season.
And what better place to remind people of his obvious, but mercurial talents, than the San Siro?
“Before the draw I wanted AC Milan, I don’t know why,” he said. “Maybe just because it is a nice atmosphere when we play teams like this and you are more excited to play. I like that we have them.
“To be honest I did not see them for a long time in any matches, I just know the players who are playing there. I think from an attacking side they have a lot of different players like Pato, Robinho, and Ibrahimovic, who are all dangerous.
“I think you have to be more focused, yes. Against all Italian teams it is difficult to play because they are all very tactical – all Italian football is like that. They do not give you a lot of space, they try to close down and put a lot of pressure on you in the middle.”
It’s a tough task for this inconsistent Arsenal side, but let’s hope that come the final whistle tonight the players are drinking a nicely chilled cuvée de prestige.