Gennaro Gattuso has admitted that Arsenal fully deserved to beat AC Milan last night, and after the game he gave a full and frank assessment of the performance of both teams. It is certainly refreshing to hear a manager tell the truth without resorting to the well-known Wenger clichés, and it is definitely a good read…
“We knew this was going to be a very difficult match,” Gattuso was quoted as saying in the RossoneriBlog. “Arsenal were coming off a tough moment, but have enormous quality at their disposal, while we made too many mistakes. We never played like a compact team and Arsenal deserved the victory.
“We could’ve done more, but we didn’t play as a team, so every time they attacked, it was a danger. Playing at this level is new to many of these guys, but the too many errors remain. Now we look forward without losing confidence. It was an off day and Arsenal deserved it. We’ll learn from this.
“How difficult would qualifying be? Our minds now go to Genoa, then after that we’ll start to prepare for the second leg in London. You can never say never in football, so we’ll go there and give it our best. We are certainly not going to the Emirates on a day trip. We are Milan and have a jersey to respect. We could’ve scored on Thursday, it’s not over yet, but it’s difficult. We’ll give it our best shot.
“If Wenger surprised me? No, I expected him to approach the game this way and it was our mistake giving Arsenal too much space. We allowed them to burst through our lines too easily. We never managed to dribble and get out of a 1v1 were always a man short. But I was expecting such an Arsenal, with great quality and great players. This result owes a lot to Arsenal and a lot to our errors.
“Serie A is inferior [compared to the sides Milan have to face in this stage]? In Europe there are great players with speed and quality, for instance their fullbacks always cut us in two. And then you look at the money, every team in England earns triple from TV rights and this makes the difference.”
Milan could very easily have had a penalty early in the match, but the striker managed to stay on his feet in a moment that could have changed the game completely, and Gattuso was honest yet again. “Çalhanoğlu [who was fouled early on inside the box but did not fall to the ground, so no penalty was given]? I would’ve thrown myself, he touched him, and the contact was there… but that’s OK… how can you not throw yourself there?
“The match? We were struggling, we were wrong a lot and Arsenal were superior to us. They did well to block our play in the midfield. We must look forward, Arsenal were in great difficulty [they came to the match after 4 defeats], but they have quality, and this is not bought at the supermarket.
“Those who play football know that it’s difficult to play this type of game. To get experience you have to take this beating and go through these paths. Until we don’t play games like this, we will always talk about inexperience, it’s there and I also played as a youngster and played wrong balls.
“We had to dribble, we prepared like that, but we lost the ball so many times. The second leg? The head is on Sunday against Genoa, we are playing something important and then we will think about Arsenal. We have an important jersey and we cannot afford to go for a picnic.
“The athletic preparation for the match? These are sold-out matches, they are totally different games than in Serie A. The opponents are technically and physically strong. It’s true, however, that we were less than brilliant, we suffered. I don’t know if we were wrong [in the preparation], we did a workload simulating what we would do in the derby [which was cancelled due to Astori’s sudden death].”
Now that is what I call a proper assessment of the game, and one that we will never ever get from a manager like Wenger, who is too worried about giving too much away to be honest after a defeat. So what do Arsenal fans make of that?