ARSENAL look to take a step closer to the Europa League final – and next season's Champions League – by attempting to see off Atletico Madrid over two legs. Analyst Adam Goodwin (@AGJournalism) previews tonight's first leg.
Arsenal v Atletico Madrid | Thursday 26th April 2018, 20:05 | BT Sport
After Arsene Wenger announced his resignation from Arsenal earlier this week, he will be desperate to end his tenure at the club by lifting the Europa League and cement a place in next season's Champions League to end his tenure with success.
Atletico are notorious for being strong in knockout competitions, reaching two Champions League finals and a semi-final since 2013/14.
You’d imagine the Arsenal players will be desperate to give their legendary manager a good send off before he leaves at the end of the season, and they can start that by recording a victory in this game on Thursday night.
Arsenal have Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Petr Cech available for tonight’s game, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible and Mohamed Elneny is potentially out for the rest of the season.
The Gunners’ home form is very good against some of the weaker sides in the league, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, but they’ve only managed one win against the rest of the “Big Six” this season.
They’ve also only kept two clean sheets in 15 games and been defensively shaky against Newcastle and West Ham in recent weeks. This is an area that Atletico can definitely look to exploit.
This is the first time these two teams have ever met, and Arsene Wenger has only lost his first match against new sides 10 times out of 124.
As I’ve already mentioned, Atletico Madrid love a knockout competition and Diego Simeone will be keen to ruin Arsene Wenger’s swansong as Arsenal manager.
Unlike Arsenal, Atletico are famously tight at the back. They’ve only conceded two or more goals in 5 of their last 44 games. They’ve also drawn with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu and only lost 1-0 to Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
Diego Costa has scored three goals in six matches against Arsenal, and Diego Simeone has said that he’ll at least be on the bench. He’ll ensure Shkodran Mustafi has a torrid time if he does play a part.
Diego Simeone hasn’t lost an away European match in England as Atletico manager – a draw with Leicester City and one win and a draw against Chelsea.
When watching Arsenal in recent weeks, I’d be very sceptical about backing them on Thursday night. Their defence is something that worries me and, whilst they are decent going forward, I think Atletico can nullify this.
My best bet is Atletico draw no bet at 11/10 best price with Sky Bet. I can’t see Arsenal keeping a clean sheet with their defensive issues at the moment, and I also can’t see them scoring two or more goals against Atletico’s solid back-four. So, I think 11/10 is a great price.
Arsenal v Atletico Madrid – Atletico Madrid draw no bet (11/10 SkyBet)