Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu part of the problem as AC Milan fall flat
AC Milan suffered a 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League clash with Arsenal, and in turn have given themselves a mountain to climb next week at the Emirates. Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey have put the Gunners in full control of the tie.
Arsenal could, and arguably should, be out of sight given their chances in the first half and in truth, the tie easily could be over already. It's a learning curve for Milan, but they have to learn quickly if they want to make the next step up.
There will be a real sense of disappointment for the Rossoneri as they looked a shadow of the team that put together a 13-game unbeaten run. They looked like they were playing with fear, especially in the first half, as they failed to put together any sustained period of good football. Arsenal more than deserved their win.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Gennaro Gattuso has earned plenty of plaudits in recent weeks, but he has to take responsibility when things go wrong too. Arsenal were causing havoc down Milan's right flank, and they failed to address it and were made to pay. The Rossoneri simply didn't perform on the big occasion.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Gianluigi Donnarumma, 6 -- Can't be blamed for either goal, and produced some decent saves in the first half to prevent things from getting worse. It was a decent performance under the circumstances from the young goalkeeper.
DF Davide Calabria, 5 -- Needed more support as it was clear he was struggling very early on to deal with Mkhitaryan. After a string of solid defensive performances, he was left exposed on Thursday night and struggled.
DF Leonardo Bonucci, 6 -- The Milan captain was defensively sound for the most part as he didn't let Danny Welbeck's pace trouble him too much. He stepped up to create in the second half, but like his teammates, he couldn't find a decisive touch.
DF Alessio Romagnoli, 6 -- The in-form centre-half was caught out for the second goal as Ramsey snuck in behind, via a brilliant assist from Mesut Ozil, so this was a definite drop-off from his recent performances. Overall though, similar to Bonucci, there wasn't much else he did wrong.
DF Ricardo Rodriguez, 5 -- The Swiss international put in a decent shift, but didn't really assert himself on the game in either phase. Defensively did what he had to do, but going forward, he needed to offer more when he had time and space.
MF Franck Kessie, 5 -- It was a very sloppy performance in possession from Kessie, as he gave the ball away countless times. While he worked tirelessly as always, he wasn't alert enough to stop balls between the lines and so he couldn't get a foothold for Milan.
MF Lucas Biglia, 5 -- Improved as the game went on, but particularly in the first half, looked scared on the ball and saw play bypass him too easily for Arsenal to break at the Milan defence. Biglia was another player who suffered a drop-off, having recently impressed.
MF Giacomo Bonaventura, 5 -- Wasteful in key situations, he wasn't accurate or efficient enough in possession. A case could be made that he was the best of the creative players when compared to Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu, but he didn't do enough and spurned a good chance in the second half too.
FW Suso, 5 -- Really poor from the Spaniard, as he failed to produce in a big game when Milan needed him. Rarely got the better of his marker, was easily outmuscled and tackled while his delivery was below par as well. He needs to be much better in the second leg as there were glimpses of his quality.
FW Patrick Cutrone, 5 -- Worked hard as expected, but coming up against Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny, it was hard work for the youngster. Played an important role off the ball, but his limitations were on display.
FW Hakan Calhanoglu, 5 -- Deserves credit for staying honest and not looking for that early penalty, but not much else went right for him. He was tidy in possession for the most part, but when it really mattered and Milan needed a killer pass from him, he couldn't deliver it.
FW Nikola Kalinic, 5 -- Looked a bit more of a threat after coming on as he almost snuck in for a goal. Poses a different threat to Cutrone and so perhaps could get the nod in the second leg, but he has to be clinical.
FW Andre Silva, 6 -- Offered a bit more physicality up top and almost produced a brilliant assist for Kalinic. The Portuguese international will surely be a candidate to start next week as he offers more all around to trouble Arsenal's backline.
DF Fabio Borini, NR -- Introduced late on, he didn't have much time to influence the game other than to offer a fresh pair of legs.
Sumeet Paul covers AC Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @SP_Calcio.