UEFA Europa League: Atletico Madrid vs Arsenal preview


Arsene Wenger could face his last match as Arsenal manager in Europe as the Gunners visit Atletico Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium today for the second leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-finals tie. The first leg started well for Arsenal as Atletico right-back Sime Vrsaljko got sent off in the first half, then Alexandre Lacazette scored to put the home side ahead, but a huge error in defence with eight minutes left in the game allowed Antoine Griezmann to score the equalizer for Atletico. That was the first direct meeting between these two teams in an European competition.

Atletico Madrid are in pole-position in the race towards the Europa League final thanks to Griezmann's late goal at the Emirates Stadium last week, especially since they have managed record eleven consecutive clean sheets in their home matches in all competitions. In fact, they have not conceded a goal at home since January, and that is impressive by any standard. Last weekend Atletico secured a 1-0 victory at Alaves in LaLiga, even though several first-team regulars were rested by head coach Diego Simeone. Filipe Luis and Juanfran remain sidelined with injuries, while Sime Vrsaljko is suspended.

Arsenal have only themselves to blame for the first leg result, they dominated the whole match and could have scored plenty more goals, but that doesn't excuse the enormous errors that led to Griezmann's late goal. The Europa League is the only chance for Arsene Wenger to leave his beloved Gunners with the perspective of playing in the Champions League next season, and that is why the Frenchman rested almost the entire team for the weekend match against Manchester United. Mohamed Elneny is the only injury concern for the away side.

Probable line-ups:

Atletico: Oblak - Partey, Gimenez, Godin, Hernandez - Correa, Gabi, Niguez, Koke - Costa, Griezmann

Arsenal: Ospina - Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal - Ramsey, Xhaka, Wilshere - Ozil, Mkhitaryan - Lacazette

My prediction: Atletico Madrid to win 2-1.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Atletico win - 1.61
Draw - 3.79
Arsenal win - 5.50

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