AC Milan have 'no fear, only respect' for Arsenal, says Giacomo Bonaventura

James Benge
Bonaventura's Milan side head into Thursday's game in fine form: Getty Images

Giacomo Bonaventura insists AC Milan are approaching their Europa League round-of-16 tie against Arsenal with “no fear, only respect”.

Despite their precipitous decline in form over recent weeks, Arsenal rank among the favourites to win the Europa League, trailing only Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in the betting odds.

Milan would be entitled to see themselves are dark horses to claim the title, the only major trophy missing from their cabinet, in Lyon after a remarkable revival in their fortunes under manager Gennaro Gattuso which has seen them go unbeaten since the turn of the year.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have lost four games in a row for the first time in over a decade. To make matters worse, history is not on their side on their visit to Italy, where their last three non-qualifying matches have ended in defeats at the hands of Roma, Milan and Napoli.

However, Italy international Bonaventura is refusing to take the struggling Gunners lightly and insists the “strong players” Arsene Wenger has available to him will pose Milan a stern test.

“It’s definitely one of the most beautiful ties I’ve ever played,” Bonaventura said.

“It’s a fascinating game and we really want to do well because we want to get through.

“It won’t be easy, Arsenal have great players and even if they’re not going through a great period of form they have strong players. But we believe, and we also have a chance to get through.

“It’s hard to single out one of their players in particular. There’s no fear, only respect. Arsenal are a team with a great history and we know we can’t get it wrong.”

Milan will be without centre-back Mateo Musacchio for the clash at the San Siro on Thursday, but Gatusso is likely to be able to name his first-choice line-up.

As for Arsenal, Wenger has had to leave Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal and Alexandre Lacazette in London.