Both sides are just 90 minutes away from a European cup final and with the tie in the balance, who can come up with the goods in Madrid on Thursday? Analyst Adam Goodwin (@AGJournalism) previews tonight’s first leg.
Atletico Madrid v Arsenal | Thursday 3rd May 2018, 20:05 | BT Sport
Atletico will have come away from the Emirates happy with the result, but perhaps not so happy with their discipline. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off within 13 minutes at the Emirates and Diego Simeone was banished to the stands after an altercation with the referee. Vrsaljko will be banned for the second leg and Simeone will have to watch on from the stands, both of which aren’t ideal for Atletico.
Atletico Madrid’s home form has always been famously impressive, and the fact that they haven’t conceded a goal at home since 20th January doesn’t bode well for Arsenal. Their home form in Europe is also extremely good, they have only lost three games since Diego Simeone took over in 2011.
Within the last 12 months, only two of Ateltico’s home games have seen four or more goals, so I think you can bank on a reasonably low scoring game. They’ve also only scored three or more goals in five European games within the last three years – and three of those occasions have come in the Europa League this season.
The first leg almost summed up Arsenal at the moment. Electric in attack, calamitous at the back. Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck and Alexandre Lacazette have started to form a real partnership in this competition, and it was the latter that got the Gunners goal at the Emirates last week.
The goal that was conceded was another mistake by Laurent Koscielny, and with him and Shkodran Mustafi failing to keep another clean sheet, perhaps Arsene Wenger will give Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos a chance. The 20-year-old impressed against Manchester United on Sunday and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry said he “would like to see more of him” and that “he was solid, very solid.” Not something you would usually associate with Arsenal’s defence at the moment…
I’m sure everyone’s seen the remarkable stat that Arsenal have yet to pick up a point in the league in 2018. The nearest club to them in league position without one are Tamworth, who are 20th in the National League North. But in Europe, their away form has been slightly better. They’ve drawn 2-2 with CSKA Moscow and secured away wins against Ostersunds and AC Milan. The Gunners can’t afford to lose another away game in Madrid on Thursday.
Arsenal have tended to step up their performances in the Europa League this season but I don’t think Arsene Wenger’s men will have enough to get past this imperious Atletico Madrid side on Thursday. You can’t ignore the Gunners horrendous away form in the league and when you look at the fact that Atletico have only lost two games at home within the last year, it’s hard to get Arsenal onside.
I like the look of a unique market on the 188BET website. Atletico to win or draw and under 2.5 goals is 107/100 and looks like really good value. This covers 1-0, 2-0, 0-0 and 1-1, and would leave Atletico in a good position to qualify for another European cup final.
Atletico Madrid v Arsenal – Atletico to win or draw and under 2.5 goals (107/100 188BET)