Big Match Breakdown: Atletico Madrid v Arsenal
Preview and odds for huge Europa League clash
If Arsenal are to give Arsene Wenger the perfect send-off, then the Gunners must find a way past Atletico Madrid tonight.
After a 1-1 draw at the Emirates last week, Arsenal are guaranteed to exit the Europa League unless they can score in the Spanish capital.
But Diego Simeone’s side do not concede easily. So it’s up to the Gunners to find a way.
Here’s all the key info for the big game…
Last week’s meeting in London was the first ever clash between the two sides. But when it comes to comparable form, Atletico hold the upper hand.
The Rojiblancos have lost only three of their last 36 home games, and have kept a staggering 11 consecutive clean sheets.
Arsenal on the other hand, have won just two of their last 11 away games, although both of those came in European competition.
Wenger made a whole host of changes for Arsenal’s 2-1 loss to Manchester United on Sunday.
But tonight we will likely see a near-identical line-up from the first-leg.
That means returns for Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Petr Cech, and Alexandre Lacazette. Henrikh Mkhitaryan missed last week’s clash through injury but returned on Sunday.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and new signing Konstantinos Mavropanos may be given consideration though after impressive turns at Old Trafford.
For Atleti, Simeone made several changes at the weekend too. Diego Costa started which means the Spaniard could be in the squad for the full 90 minutes (and beyond) this evening, having only been fit enough for the bench at the Emirates.
There will be at least one change from Madrid’s XI seven days ago however, with Sime Vrsaljko suspended following his sending off.
This is a huge game for Arsenal in all areas. They must be clinical up front, accurate and dedicated in midfield, and alert at the back. They’ve been guilty of failing in each aspect several times this season.
In Costa and Antoine Griezmann, Madrid boast two mighty strikers. Not only are they gifted on the ball, but they’re clever too.
Their movement and vision can cause Arsenal problems if Koscielny and his men aren’t focused.
Granit Xhaka will need to have a night to remember and dictate the play in midfield, while Ramsey’s ability to find space will be crucial.
Top performances are also needed from Ozil, Wilshere and Mkhitaryan.
Arsenal’s chances rest heavily on their creative talents producing the goods, while Lacazette cannot afford to waste a single chance this evening.
Atletico’s defensive unit is as solid as any in the game, however.
They’re as disciplined and organised as they come, and will have most of Arsenal’s attacks covered with aplomb. It will take something special to break them down.
Given Atletico’s stunning home record, they’re unsurprisingly favourites to win tonight at 3/4. Arsenal are 4/1, with a draw available at 5/2 with Coral.
In terms of who makes the final, Atleti again hold the upper hand. The Madrid side are 2/7 to progress, with the Gunners the outsiders at 5/2.
Arsenal must score or they’re out. That could leave them exposed at the back. Both teams to score is 19/20, while over 2.5 goals is 21/20.
Will Costa prove a thorn in Arsenal’s side once again? The former Chelsea man is 4/1 to open the scoring and 6/4 anytime.
There’s 11/4 for Griezmann to break the deadlock, and the French star is 19/20 to net at any point.
For Wenger’s side, Coral are 7/1 about Lacazette to put Arsenal 1-0 up, with Danny Welbeck 9/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing