Arsenal welcome Atletico Madrid to the Emirates Stadium in the first leg of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final clash. Atleti are big favourites to reach the final, but it’s the first time the two sides are facing each other in a competitive setting which could mean the outcome is harder to predict.
Arsenal have home advantage and have been formidable at the Emirates Stadium this season, while the Rojiblancos come into this week’s European encounter off the back of woeful away form which could see them struggle. It may be the best time for Arsene Wenger to come up against Diego Simeone.
Arsenal’s home form (last-six in all competitions)
Atleti’s away form (last-six in all competitions)
Arsenal have lost only three home games in all competitions this season (Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup, League Cup). The Gunners have beaten the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea and have picked up points against Liverpool.
Arsene Wenger’s men are enjoying a run of six consecutive home wins, so they’ll fancy their chances against a travel-sick Madrid side. The Gunners have extra motivation too, as the Europa League looks to be their only hope of attaining Champions League football next season and will be manager Arsene Wenger’s last shot at European glory – he announced he’ll step down at the end of the campaign.
As for Atleti, things haven’t been going to plan in recent weeks. Simeone’s men have managed just one away win in two months and have shipped seven goals in their last four.
Atleti might take hope from Arsenal’s injury list, however, with the Gunners potentially missing four first-team players from the squad – Mohamed Elneny, Jack Wilshere, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil.
Arsenal’s record vs Spanish clubs (Celta Vigo, Villarreal, Barcelona, Mallorca, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna, Valencia, Real Zaragoza): 31 games, 10 wins, 6 draws, 15 defeats
Atletico Madrid’s record vs English clubs (Leicester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Fulham, Manchester United, Derby County, Tottenham Hotspur, Bolton Wanderers): 27 games, 10 wins, 10 draws, 7 defeats
Arsenal have a poor record against Spanish clubs, while Atleti have been much more consistent. Domestically speaking, the Gunners are currently sixth in the Premier League table, having lost 11 of their 34 games, whereas the Rojiblancos are second in La Liga, suffering only four losses in the same amount of matches.
With the semi-final second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano – a stadium Madrid have suffered just two defeats at this season – Arsenal have to win at the Emirates.
Wenger will be forced into naming a makeshift starting eleven due to Arsenal’s injuries, but if they can’t beat Simeone’s men with home advantage it’s hard to see them getting a result on the road – Arsenal have won just four of their last 17 away games in all competitions.