Europa League Semi-Final Preview: Arsenal vs Atletico Madrid

Well, what a game last night in the Champions League, as Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich 2-1, and if you followed our betting tips, then you would have been a winner on both of our predictions. So, onto tonight’s game in the Europa League Semi-Final at the Emirates Stadium, which sees Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal take on Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, in the undisputed big game of the round.

Yes, this is when things start to get interesting, and Arsenal have the responsibility of living up to the legend of Arsene Wenger, who has announced that he will step down at the end of the season after 22 years as manager of the Gunners. Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid hope to hang onto 2nd place in La Liga and Antoine Griezmann for next season (not happening), with three matches to go in their campaign, trailing league leaders and imminent champions Barcelona.

It’s Arsene Wenger’s last curtain call, after twenty-two years at Arsenal. Can they win this crucial match tonight? Credit: Sky News

So, what can we expect from tonight’s match in North London? Well, it’s going to be a very interesting match, and the last time the two sides met, was in a friendly on August 1st, 2009, when Arsenal beat Atletico 2-1. But in more recent action, Arsenal are coming off the back of a 4-1 victory over West Ham in the Premier League, and Atletico are returning from a 0-0 draw at home against Real Betis, which is a less than an impressive result, however, Diego Simeone rested some key players in that match in preparation of this Semi-Final.

Arsenal’s playmaker Mesut Ozil is back in the line up for this crucial game, but as we all know Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup tied, which is why Alexandre Lacazette played the full 90 minutes against West Ham, scoring two goals in the process, so as to be prepared for this clash. Additionally, Mohammed Elneny is out until the end of the season, as is Mkhitaryan, so this opens the doors for Jack Wilshere to fill the midfield void, or even Ainsley Maitland-Niles preferred, after performing well against the Hammers on the weekend. Petr Cech may return in between the goal posts, if chosen over Ospina. As for in attack, expect Welbeck on one flank and Ozil on the other, either side of Lacazette.

Lots of scoring responsibility is weighed on Lacazette’s shoulders tonight. Credit: 101 Great Goals

Arsenal will be expected to line up in a 4-3-3 formation, with the wing forwards, supporting back into midfield whenever necessary, in essence making it a 4-5-1 until an attack is on the cards, but with Welbeck staying further up the pitch than Mesut Ozil.

Atletico Madrid’s current form, hasn’t been the best of late, winning only one match out of the previous five games, drawing two and losing two. We expect Atletico to line up in a standard 4-4-2 formation, with questions remaining over Diego Costa’s fitness as he battles back from a hamstring injury, although he has been named in the 20-man squad by Diego Someone. So as to who will partner Antoine Griezmann in attack, they have Gameiro, Correa and Torres, all to choose from. Experienced right back Juanfran is also sidelined, but with such an experienced side, featuring Diego Godin, Filipe Luis and Stefan Savic in defence, with the talents of Koke and Saul in midfield, and with Griezmann in attack, Atletico will be hard to break down, as these are truly some resilient players with flair in the final third.

On the other hand, the key players for Arsenal will be Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil in midfield, along with lots of responsibility on the shoulders of Lacazette, who has a chance to stake his claim for more first team starts with a fine performance tonight.

Danger man Antoine Griezmann will have to be contained tonight, if Arsenal wish to win. Credit: Sky Sports

We expect Arsenal to really take the game to Atletico Madrid with a high paced display and this would be the tactic that could really unsettle Los Rojiblancos, opening up the chances for Arsenal goals. We see this match to be quite a high scoring game, with an open outlook, if Arsenal can play in this way. But, if Atletico are given time on the ball, and are allowed to slow the game down, then this could spell curtains for the Gunners, since the clinical technique of Saul and Koke, could unlock the Arsenal defence with a Griezmann finish, if they are allowed to do so. Questions will remain over the efficiency of Arsenal’s back line, and it is definitely up to Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi to keep it tight at the back, or Arsenal will be in for a tough night.

Arsenal must perform and score in the home leg, otherwise, the return fixture next week at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano will be a daunting task. If Arsenal come out with the right fearless mentality tonight, then they could cause an upset and win this game. Let’s hope that’s the case for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.

Our predictions for tonight’s match are, as follows: Over 2.5 Goals

Our other prediction for tonight’s match: Atletico Madrid to win, Both Teams to Score


Story by The Narrator

Featured Photo Credit: Apuestas Deportivas

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