It's the tie of the round, with two of European football's heavy weights battling to gain a first-leg advantage in what promises to be a mouth-watering Champions League encounter. The Rossoneri currently lead Juventus at the top of Serie A, while the Gunners go in to tonight’s fixture on the back of successive Premier League wins which have propelled them into the top four.
Both sides will field a wealth of attacking talent with the likes of Alexandre Pato, Kevin Prince Boateng, and Arsenal livewire Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all likely to feature. But Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robin van Persie will be the crucial two in determining the outcome of this exciting Champions League tie.
Ibrahimovic is the only player who has managed to score in four consecutive Champions League appearances this season, and his average of a goal per 90 mins is superior to van Persie’s average of a goal per 104 mins. In spite of this, van Persie’s impressive shooting accuracy (80%) in the Champions League is far superior to Ibrahimovic’s (59%), resulting in the Dutchman having a better chance conversion rate as well (30%).
With 22 goals, van Persie is the Premier League’s top scorer this season, and his record compares favourably to Ibrahimovic’s 15 goals in Serie A. Moreover, excluding penalties, the Dutchman has also been more prolific than Cristiano Ronaldo this season, scoring the same number of league goals as Lionel Messi (21).
Arsenal have already been given a first-hand demonstration of Ibrahimovic's ability. The Swede scored twice in Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in 2009. For the Gunners, they'll be looking to record their second San Siro win in the Champions League, after Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor scored at this stage of the competition four years ago to win 2-0.
One of the two sides will progress further than they reached in the previous campaign, with both Arsenal and AC Milan being knocked out at this stage last year – AC Milan were shown the door by Tottenham while Arsenal failed to capitalise on a first-leg win against Barcelona, subsequently falling to the Spanish Champions at the Camp Nou.
Will it be Van Persie or Ibrahimovic who will be celebrating after 90 minutes? Can Milan overcome their bad-run against English sides or will Arsneal make it 8 wins out of 9 against Italian opposition? Share your thoughts online, on Twitter and on Facebook. It's set to be a fascinating tie. Wherever you're watching it, enjoy!