Europa League crucial to Arsene Wenger’s future at Arsenal

Arsenal face a difficult task against tournament favourites Atletico Madrid as they bid to reach the final of this season’s Europa League.

Diego Simeone’s side are currently second in La Liga behind runaway leaders Barcelona and are already guaranteed a place in next season’s Champions League.

Atletico are priced at 1/2 with Genting Bet to progress to the final, with Arsenal on offer at 6/4. The Spanish side are also favourites to win the tournament outright at 11/10, with the Gunners second in the betting at 3/1.

Arsenal have had a largely untroubled passage to the semi-finals of the competition after finishing top of Group H with 13 points from their six matches.

Swedish side FK Ostersunds briefly threatened to spring a surprise in the round of 32, but Sead Kolasinac’s goal just after half-time in the second leg sealed a 4-2 aggregate success.

Arsenal drew Milan in the last 16 and eased to an impressive 2-0 win in the San Siro before completing the job with a 3-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners came from 2-0 down to draw the second leg of their quarter-final at CSKA Moscow 2-2, progressing to the last four 6-3 on aggregate.

Atletico entered the Europe League at the round of 32 having finished third in their Champions League group behind Roma and Chelsea.

The La Liga side went on to beat Denmark’s FC Copenhagen 5-1 on aggregate, before demolishing Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow 8-1 overall in the last 16.

Atletico subsequently defeated Sporting Lisbon 2-1 on aggregate in their quarter-final tie and they will undoubtedly be the toughest side Arsenal have faced in the competition.

The two sides have never played each other in Europe, with their only previous meeting resulting in a 2-1 friendly victory for Arsenal back in 2009.

Arsenal’s season and manager Arsene Wenger’s future hinges on them winning this competition, both to secure some silverware and qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Arsenal have been impressive in the first leg of each of their knockout ties, beating Ostersunds and Milan without conceding a goal to take the pressure off heading into the second game and they will hope for similar against Atletico.

The Gunners can be backed at 8/5 to win the first meeting, with Atletico on offer at 17/10 and the draw available at 21/10.

The first leg takes place on April 26 at the Emirates, with the return match at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium the following Thursday.

The winners of the tie will face either Red Bull Salzburg or Marseille in the final in Lyon on May 16.

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