Despite having a man advantage in their Europa League semifinal first leg against Atletico Madrid, Arsenal were unable to see off the Spanish side. Now, the Gunners must go to Spain needing an away goal at the very least to have any hope of progressing to the Europa League final. Atletico are the sportsbooks’ favourite to win the competition and the ManBetX Bonus code can give punters plenty of incentive to wager on the tournament final.
Arsenal’s inability to keep a late lead doomed the Gunners, and despite drawing 1-1 with Atletico, the result felt more like a loss. Thursday night, the two clubs will tangle once more, only this time at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. It is a difficult place to play as Atletico have not lost at home during the La Liga season. Not only has the Wanda been a fortress for Atletico in terms of wins and losses this term, but the club has only allowed four goals at home.
Atletico’s defence has been so good at home that the club haven’t conceded a goal in 11 straight matches at the Wanda. That is a run that stretches back to mid-December. Arsenal’s task in the Spanish capital won’t be easy. The Gunners must score an away goal to go through after allowing Antoine Griezmann to score on the counter-attack in the first leg. Griezmann’s 82nd minute goal was a sucker punch to Arsenal, and it was allowed due to sloppy defending from centre-back Laurent Koscielny.
The Gunners amassed 76.1% possession on Thursday night, which was due to Sime Vrsaljko’s ninth minute sending off. His two mistimed tackles allowed Arsenal to have a man advantage for 81 minutes. However, Atletico’s stout defending prevented Arsenal from breaking through more than once. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak was the man Atletico manager Diego Simone can truly thank for his team’s good fortune. The highly rated shot stopper made seven saves. The goalkeeper is being linked with a possible move to Arsenal and other big clubs after his brilliant performance. However, it looks like it will take around £80 million to trigger his release clause.
Arsene Wenger potentially has one more European match with Arsenal. The Frenchman will step down at the end of the season and Thursday’s fixture in Madrid may very well be his last. While Arsenal’s players have been guilty of poor performances over the last few years under Wenger, the team turned up its aggression in the first leg. Arsenal will need that same aggression and desire to score that the team showed in the first leg, if they hope to go through.
In the aftermath of the first leg, Arsenal were labelled by many in the British press as “lightweight”. That criticism seems incredibly harsh as the Gunners battled the tournament favourite. The second leg must see Wenger’s team be more ruthless in attack, however. The side cannot try to walk the ball into the net. Needing a goal to progress, Arsenal must shoot on sight at the Wanda Stadium on Thursday night.