The Europa League semifinals draws pitted Premier League club, Arsenal with their biggest threat to winning the competition, Atletico Madrid. The Gunners are hinging our season on winning the competition as it offers the only realistic chance of reaching next season’s Champions League group stages.
Los Rojiblancos are in this competition after finishing third in their Champions League group containing the likes of Roma, Qarabag and Chelsea, but while they are not in it to play elite European football next term, Diego Simeone will be looking to win his first trophy in four years. That said though, Atletico are not the force that reached two Champions League finals in 3 years between 2014 and 2016.
Atletico boss, Diego Simeone says that the club want to win the tournament as the perfect send forth gift for departing striker, Fernando Torres who is leaving the club at the end of the campaign.
These are three reasons why Arsenal should not be too afraid of facing the Madrid based outfit.
The potential loss of Diego Costa
Former Chelsea man, Diego Costa plays in the colours of Atletico. In three years in West London, the Spanish international consistently bullied the Arsenal backline. While he has had mixed form since making his return to the Wanda Metropolitano in January, he would have licked his lips at the prospect of facing The Gunners.
However, the 24-year-old is a doubt to miss the clash as he picked up an hamstring injury in the 1-0 loss away at Sporting Lisbon on Thursday night. With the fixture in just two weeks, Costa may not be fully fit and may be rushed back to action by Simeone. Arsenal will be buoyed by the fact that should he play, he will be careful and not play at a maximum as he would not want to aggravate his injury.
Arsenal’s attack line are in form
The likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Daniel Welbeck and Mesut Ozil are in impressive form at the moment, and with Wenger knowing that his career at The Emirates stadium may end this summer, he will release the handbrakes on his players. Lacazette is the number 1 striker in the Europa League and will be looking at causing damage to one of Europe’s tightest defences.
The likes of Ozil and Welbeck are turning up the screw at the moment, and over two legs, Arsenal can score the goals to take them to the final. On their day, the Arsenal forward line can make a mess of any defence in Europe, and Wenger will be hoping that it happens when they take on their opponents in the first leg on April 27 at The Emirates.
They can be beaten
Atletico can actually be beaten. They are not Invincible. Chelsea defeated them away at the Wanda earlier in the season, pressing them high, attacking them relentlessly and forcing them to make mistakes. While Arsenal are not the best in terms of these attributes, they can beat Atletico. Knowing that beating Atletico will make then favourites in the final, it will serve as a morale-booster. The other semifinals sees Salzburg take on 1993 Champions League winners.