Thursday 26 Apr

Arsenal vs Atletico - Match Preview

25 Apr 2018 Ed Mackey INTERNATIONAL CLUBS: UEFA Europa League, Knockout stage
INTERNATIONAL CLUBS: UEFA Europa League, Knockout stage

Arsenal FC

  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W

vs

Kick-off
19:05 GMT
26 April 2018

Atletico Madrid

  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D

Kick-off
19:05 GMT 26 April 2018

On the back of the UEFA Champions League semi-final first legs, the Europa League semis take place on Thursday evening. In the bigger of the two, Arsenal host Atletico at the Emirates looking to take a lead into the second-leg next week.

STATS

  • After news broke that Arsene Wenger will be leaving Arsenal at the end of this season, the Europa League is the final trophy he can win. They have put their complete focus on Europe and they have won all three of their first legs so far this term, all of which by two or more goals. In their last match, a late flurry of goals led to them beating West Ham 4-1.
  • Atletico have put up a strong fight in their quest for the La Liga title but have ultimately failed so their attention switches to the Europa League. Like their opponents, they have won each of their first legs since their drop out from the Champions League group stage. They failed to inspire at the weekend with a boring 0-0 against Real Betis.
  • Aaron Ramsey is Arsenal’s leading scorer in Europe so far this term with four goals in just four games.
  • Antoine Griezmann is just one goal behind him as Atletico’s top scorer in the Europa League despite them joining the competition after the group stage fixtures.

HEAD TO HEAD

These two sides have never met in European competition, their only meeting was a friendly in the Emirates Cup in 2009 which finished 2-1 to Arsenal after a late Andrey Arshavin brace. The last time they faced a Spanish side was seven years ago as they were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona despite winning the first leg at the Nou Camp. Atletico’s last experience of an English side was against Chelsea in London earlier in the campaign, where they drew 1-1.

ARSENAL NEWS

The hosts need to take advantage of a home first leg by giving themselves some breathing room before the first leg. Mohamed Elneny and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are both injured and won’t feature while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible to play.

Latest matches: Arsenal FC

22.04.2018 Prem Arsenal FC West Ham United 4:1 W
15.04.2018 Prem Newcastle United Arsenal FC 2:1 L
12.04.2018 UEFA CSKA Moscow Arsenal FC 2:2 D
08.04.2018 Prem Arsenal FC Southampton FC 3:2 W
05.04.2018 UEFA Arsenal FC CSKA Moscow 4:1 W

ATLETICO NEWS

Avoiding defeat would put Atletico in the driving seat ahead of next week and any away goals could turn out to be huge. Despite reports of any injury, Diego Costa is fit to start at the Emirates while Juanfran will miss both legs.

Latest matches: Atletico Madrid

22.04.2018 LaLi Atletico Madrid Betis Sevilla 0:0 D
19.04.2018 LaLi Real Sociedad Atletico Madrid 3:0 L
15.04.2018 LaLi Atletico Madrid Levante UD 3:0 W
12.04.2018 UEFA Sporting CP Atletico Madrid 1:0 L
08.04.2018 LaLi Real Madrid Atletico Madrid 1:1 D

SUMMARY

This could turn out to be one of Arsenal’s biggest games if they can pull off a decent result in the first-leg. However, an Atletico win, which is a real possibility, could all-but-confirm their elimination from the Europa League. It’s very hard to split the sides but with the potential of Griezmann and Costa in the visitors’ attacking line, they are slight favourites.

About the author - Ed Mackey

Experienced sports writer and huge Leicester City fan.

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