Arsenal vs Atletico Madrid: Match preview
Arsenal would give their 100% against a resolute Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the semi-final of Europa League, at the Emirates. The English giants are playing their season defining match against Diego Simeone managed team. A cracker of a game is expected, with the second leg being held in a week's time. Here is our match preview.
Arsenal will feel better since Petr Cech, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere are available for the tie, after suffering minor injuries earlier. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is set to miss out for Arsenal due to a knee injury. For Atletico, Diego Costa is likely to feature today, which is a major relief for Simeone. Juanfran, though, is out of the tie because of a hamstring injury.
Breaching Atletico's defense will be a tough ask for Arsenal, if not impossible. The Spanish giants have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga all season and have the most thick back-line in Europe. Arsenal's forward line need to connect well in order to make inroads. The vision of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey will be key.
Outgoing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels it will be an anti-climax not to win the trophy. He wants his side to give it all against the mighty Atletico. Meanwhile, Diego Simeone praised Wenger for what he has achieved in his 22-year rein at Arsenal.
Over two legs, the Spanish side will be a tough nut to crack for Arsenal. Atletico, like Arsenal, are looking for their first silverware of the season and the grief of missing out on two Champions League titles, will keep them motivated. The likes of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa make up a deadly upfront. Their defense is also rock solid.
Both sides are meeting for the first time in Europe. Although, Atletico are the 10th Spanish side, the Gunners will face across European competitions. Atletico won the Europa League in 2010 and 2012. Arsenal have scored the most goals in Europa League this season (29). Former Chelsea man Costa has three goals in six matches against the Gunners.
It's going to be an interesting battle between the two sides. Arsenal's attacking display at home against a compact Atletico defense would be a treat. Having said that and looking at the players' form, we predict a narrow win for Arsenal.