Big Match Breakdown: Arsenal v Atletico Madrid
Arsenal welcome Atletico Madrid to the Emirates this evening for the first-leg of their Europa League semi-final.
Arsene Wenger will hope his swansong continues in positive fashion against Diego Simeone’s teak-tough outfit. The winner of the competition will enter next season’s Champions League. It would be a lovely way for the Frenchman to make his exit.
But Atletico are no joke and take few prisoners when it comes to sentimentality. The Coral News Team preview the big game in-depth with our Big Match Breakdown.
Head-To-Head and Form
Remarkably, these two sides have never met competitively in European competition. The pair have only ever clashed on one occasion in the Emirates Cup back in 2009. Arsenal won that game 2-1.
The Gunners are arguably in better form in recent weeks. The North London outfit have won four of their last six matches in all competitions. Atleti, on the other hand, have hit a blip.
The Mattress Makers have won just twice in their last six, including defeats at Sporting CP and Real Sociedad.
Wenger isn’t without his squad issues ahead of the first-leg. Mohamed Elneny is out for the rest of season after injuring his knee against Newcastle United. Jack Wilshere is back in training after missing the last two games, but remains a slight doubt.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan misses out through injury, while Pierre Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied. Alexandre Lacazette will start up top with Danny Welbeck likely to play on the wing.
For Atleti, fullbacks Juan Fran and Felipe Luis are absent through injury. But Sime Vrsaljko and Lucas Hernandez are able deputies. Diego Costa, Koke and Antoine Griezmann were all rested at the weekend and will return here.
Battle is the operative word when it comes to the La Liga outfit. Simeone’s side are always up for a scrap. And if Arsenal don’t match them for desire, Atleti will be heading back to Madrid with a win.
There’s no doubt the Gunners will have most of the ball while Los Rojiblancos keep their shape and play on the counter.
Can Wenger’s side open carve them open? A lot will depend on Mesut Ozil’s performance. If the German star is on his game, the Premier League outfit have a good chance of getting a result.
Arsenal are 6/4 to win, with Atletico at 7/4, and the draw available at 21/10.
The odds suggest this is going to be a tight game. The Gunners are the team in form with momentum on their side. Plus they have the emotional ammunition of making sure Wenger goes out on a high.
But Simeone’s Atleti are a breaker of hopes and dreams. They have lost just four times on the road in Europe over the last three years – away to Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Sporting CP. Atletico are 4/9 on the Double Chance result.
However, the Mattress Makers have conceded in all three Europa League ties they’ve played in this term. And they certainly look a little leakier than in recent seasons.
Arsenal have scored three or more goals in their last six home league games. Both Teams To Score is 17/20.
Aaron Ramsey is top scorer in this competition for the Gunners with four goals. He’s 14/5 to find the net Anytime. For Atleti, Griezmann has managed 24 goals this season and is 13/10 to score Anytime.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing