By Joe Brewin
Andrey Arshavin admits he wanted to face AC Milan in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
The Russian playmaker is hoping for a recall when Arsenal line up for the first leg at the San Siro on Wednesday and he is expecting a tight, tactical battle.
Many saw the Serie A giants as the ones to avoid when the draw was made back in mid-December - but not Arshavin.
“Before the draw I wanted AC Milan, I don't know why,” he told Arsenal Player. “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.”
Arshavin starred in the home victory over Barcelona at the same stage of the competition a year ago, scoring the winner against Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side at Emirates Stadium.
The forward believes the Catalan giants are favourites to take this season’s crown but he enjoyed toppling them last time around.
“Barcelona are still favourites I think but the rest of the teams have similar chances,” said Arshavin.
”I was happy because I scored last season. 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.”
Watch the full interview with Andrey on Arsenal Player now.