Arsenal can win in Madrid but they must be faultless
Match Preview: Atletico Madrid vs. Arsenal – Europa League Semi-Final Leg 2 – 03.05.2017
Hundreds of thousands of Arsenal hearts broke when Antoine Griezmann took advantage of a series of Arsenal errors to grab a crucial away goal for Atletico and allow the Spanish side to go into the second leg on terms with the Gunners. For many, going to Madrid needing to win on the night to go through on aggregate, draw with a score of 2-2 or higher to go through on away goals or force the game into extra time with a 1-1 draw looks like mission improbable. However there is always hope and Gunners’ supporters have plenty to be hopeful about.
Arsenal’s form in the last two games has been great despite the disappointing results. Against Madrid at the Emirates Arsenal were the dominant team who could count themselves unfortunate not to have scored two or three more to give them a cushion. And the youthful team that narrowly lost to Manchester United’s first team gave us all hope for the future.
Scoring against Atletico multiple times is a big ask but if any team can do it, Arsenal can so if you’re going to bet on soccer results then this is as good a bet as any. This team is experienced in facing insurmountable tasks and almost, just almost, fighting back. The same mentality will be needed tonight but fortunately for the players they aren’t staring down a 3 goal deficit as is usual.
Arsenal haven’t won an away game in 2018 but nothing lasts forever and every bad run comes to an end at some point so why not tonight? Atletico are not the team Arsenal wanted in the semis for precisely the predicament they find themselves in but as the old saying goes, if you want to win silverware you have to beat the best. Welbeck and Lacazette are players that should worry Atletico and Arsenal proved that our only undoing against an exceptionally strong Atletico side was our defensive lapse in concentration.
An argument could be made for sticking with the same defence that performed so admirably against United but, fatal error aside, the team who played last week were on top and in control for large swathes of the match. Sticking with Mustafi and Koscielny may be the best course as they’ll be wary of repeating their mistakes from last week.
The Gunners can do this – they’ve got the talent but whether they’ve got the determination and mettle will become clear this evening.
Arsenal (from): Ospina, Cech, Holding, Chambers, Koscielny, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Wilshere, Ramsey, Özil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Welbeck, Lacazette.
“I would like to look back and think I finished this love affair well” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
We have only met Atletico in one competitive match before tonight; last week’s first leg.
- Arsenal have not won an away game in 2018
- Atletico have not conceded at home in their last 11 games
- Arsenal haven’t won in their past six European visits to Spain (D2 L4). Their last win was in February 2006, a 1-0 victory against Real Madrid in their run to the Champions League final
- Simeone’s well-drilled Madrid team have only conceded 3 goals in 2018
- On the previous two occasions Arsenal have drawn the first leg of a European semi-final, they’ve progressed to the final (1979-80 and 1993-94 Cup Winners Cup)
- Atletico have lost just one of their past 17 home games in European competition (W13 D3)
- The Gunners are aiming to qualify for their sixth major European final, and third under Arsene Wenger – they reached the Uefa Cup final in 2000 and Champions League final in 2006 under the Frenchman, losing both
- Alexandre Lacazette has had a hand in 13 goals in his past 13 Europa League starts (11 goals, two assists).
- In the first leg, Arsenal had 28 shots – only Real Sociedad against Vardar (32) in October have had more in a single game in the Europa League this season
- Should Arsenal progress from this tie, it’d be the first time two English sides had made the final of the two major European competitions since 2005-06 (Arsenal in the Champions League, Middlesbrough in the UEFA Cup)
2-1 win for Arsenal.
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