Atletico Madrid v Arsenal preview: Arsene Wenger seeking Europa League glory

Alexandre Lacazette's goal wasn't enough to secure a first-leg lead for Arsenal
Alexandre Lacazette’s goal wasn’t enough to secure a first-leg lead for Arsenal

Arsene Wenger hopes to keep alive his dream of ending his Arsenal tenure with a European trophy when they travel to Atletico Madrid for the second leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday night.

The Frenchman, who will leave his role this summer, has not tasted European glory in his 22 years in charge of the club and his team are underdogs to reach the final in Lyon on May 16 after the first leg finished 1-1 last week.

Antoine Griezmann’s strike eight minutes from time cancelled out Alexandre Lacazette’s goal to put Atletico Madrid in pole position despite playing for 80 minutes with 10 men.

Arsenal must score at least once to go through, but even though they have lost all of their Premier League away games in 2018, their manager is not concerned.

Antoine Griezmann lifts the ball over Shkodran Mustafi to equalise in the first leg
Antoine Griezmann lifts the ball over Shkodran Mustafi to equalise in the first leg

He said: “In Europe I think we have done well away from home and we neglected a bit the Premier League away from home recently.”

 He added: “I would like to walk out of Arsenal and think until the last day I focused only on Arsenal. When my job at Arsenal finishes I will see where I go from there but I want to finish this love story well.”

Team news

Arsenal have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan sat out the first leg with a knee injury, but returned at the weekend and scored in the 2-1 defeat at Manchester United.

Alex Iwobi has travelled despite suffering a slight hamstring injury on Sunday but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied and Mohamed Elneny (ankle) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) are also out.

Fit-again Diego Costa could start for Atletico Madrid.

The former Chelsea forward was an unused substitute in London last week as he recovered from a thigh injury but played over an hour in Sunday’s La Liga win over Alaves.

Defender Filipe Luis has been included in the squad and could make his first appearance since breaking his leg in mid-March but Diego Simeone has confirmed he is not ready to play for 90 minutes.

Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi is optimistic he will be fit to face Atletico Madrid.

Opta stats

  • Arsenal are winless in their last six European visits to Spain (D2 L4), last winning in February 2006, winning 1-0 against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
  • On the previous two occasions Arsenal have drawn the first leg of European semi-final, they’ve progressed to the final (1979/80 and 1993/94 Cup Winners Cup).
  • However, the last five teams to achieve a score draw away from home in the first leg of a major European semi-final have progressed to the final, including both teams in the Europa League (Dnipro in 2014-15 and Sevilla in 2015-16).
  • Atletico have lost just one of their last 17 home games in European competition (W13 D3), but that was to an English side (Chelsea in the CL Group Stage this season).
  • The Gunners are aiming to qualify for their sixth major European final, and third under Arsene Wenger – they reached the UEFA Cup final in 2000 and Champions League final in 2006 under the Frenchman, losing both.
  • Arsenal are winless in their last six European visits to Spain (D2 L4), last winning in February 2006, winning 1-0 against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
  • On the previous two occasions Arsenal have drawn the first leg of European semi-final, they’ve progressed to the final (1979/80 and 1993/94 Cup Winners Cup).
  • However, the last five teams to achieve a score draw away from home in the first leg of a major European semi-final have progressed to the final, including both teams in the Europa League (Dnipro in 2014-15 and Sevilla in 2015-16).
  • Atletico have lost just one of their last 17 home games in European competition (W13 D3), but that was to an English side (Chelsea in the CL Group Stage this season).
  • The Gunners are aiming to qualify for their sixth major European final, and third under Arsene Wenger – they reached the UEFA Cup final in 2000 and Champions League final in 2006 under the Frenchman, losing both.

 

Alexandre Lacazette had given Arsenal the lead at the Emirates
Alexandre Lacazette had given Arsenal the lead at the Emirates

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