Arsene Wenger’s 22-year-long tenure with Arsenal in European competition came to end this week as Spanish giants Atletico Madrid defeated the Gunners 1-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid and therefore won the 2017-2018 Europa League Semi-Final 2-1. Over the 90 minutes in the 2nd leg Arsenal had over 55% possession but could only muster up one shot on target and that was a speculative effort from Granit Xhaka from outside the box. The outgoing manager admitted at the end of the match that the damage had already been done in the 1st leg of Arsenal vs Atletico Madrid match, when the away team played over 80% minutes of the match with just 10 men and even though Arsenal created numerous opportunities they could not put the finishing touch to it. In this article, we will look at the 5 reasons why Atletico Madrid vs Arsenal – Europa League Semi-Final ended in yet another disappointing night for the North London club.
Mistakes cost Arsenal dear
The biggest reason for Arsenal’s exit from the UEFA Europa League Semi-Final can once again be attributed to the mistakes made by the Gunners in both legs. In the 1st leg, it was Koscielny’s indecisiveness that let Griezmann into the box and the French striker did what he does best, slammed the ball into the net. This goal came to haunt Arsenal at the end as there was hardly any pressure from the away side at that moment but a lapse of concentration let Atletico Madrid in and eventually they ended the night the much happier team.
In the second leg, after the early jitters and the loss of Koscielny, Arsenal defense led by the ever inconsistent Mustafi had done quite well actually up until the last minute of the 1st half when a loss ball in the midfield allowed Griezmann to play a killer pass to Diego Costa, which he more than happy to receive and poke it in the back of the net, while holding Hector Bellerin away from the ball for around 10-15 yards. Whoever comes in next must focus on these frequent lapses in the Arsenal defensive line which has cost them victories on numerous occasions especially this season.
Dismal away form in 2018
While Arsenal have been fantastic at home, their away form this season has been poor to say the least. Just 3 away wins in the whole season doesn’t bode well for the team who has ambitions of winning the league. In 2018, the Gunners are yet to win an away match in the league, shocking for a team which has an attacking hub capable of matching the best teams in the world. Atletico Madrid vs Arsenal was yet another disappointing away night for the Arsenal supporters who made the trip from London. Arsenal looked in control and bossed possession throughout the match but just couldn’t find that killer edge when the opportunities presented themselves. They will need to sort out their away day blues prior to the start of the next season, otherwise, it could turn into a horrible experience for all those who are invested emotionally and physically.
Atletico Madrid’s sensation home record
When the final whistle went off at the Emirates last week, everyone watching the football in that match knew that the task was not going to be an easy one by any stretch of the imagination. Arsenal vs Atletico Madrid was always going to be an uphill task for Arsene Wenger’s team but the fact that their home goal-scoring draw meant that they had to score in Madrid just took that confidence away from the Gunners even further. Atletico Madrid have conceded just 18 goals all season, the least in the La Liga but what is even more shocking is that Diego Simone’s men have let in just 4 goals at home in the La Liga and 0 in 2018 combining games from the league and Europea League. Arsenal vs Atletico Madrid Europa League semi-final was definitely not done and dusted up until the last minute but at no point during the second leg did Atletico Madrid’s defense looked to be struggling, each and every player in the red and white shirt knew their task and they did brilliantly on the night.
Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal have an off day together
With Atletico Madrid players packing the midfield and the centre of the field, the responsibility of creating goal-scoring opportunities shifted largely on the two Arsenal full-backs i.e Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal. However, on a day when every Arsenal needed to be on their A game, these two Spanish full-backs probably had their worst game of the season. Monreal, in particular, got in decent positions every few minutes but his delivery on the night was shocking and abysmal. It’s a struggle for us to even remember whether he delivered a single-ball in a dangerous area all through the game. Bellerin was slightly better than his compatriot but still didn’t affect the game the way he should have, especially with the goal-scoring onus being firmly on Arsenal for Atletico Madrid vs Arsenal Europa League Semi-Final.
That man again – Diego Costa
No matter what Diego Costa is remembered for once he hangs up his boots, he will surely be spoken about for his performance and domination against Arsenal over the many matches that he has faced them in during his time with Chelsea and now Atletico Madrid. The Spanish striker started the 1st leg Arsenal vs Atletico Madrid Europa League semi-final on the bench but got his opportunity in the 2nd leg from the 1st minute. Right in the first few minutes of the match, Costa had forced Ospina to rush off his line after the 29-year-old skipped past a couple of Arsenal defenders. But his main attack came right at the stroke of half-time when he kept Bellerin at bay for a few seconds as he charged down on goal and in the smashed his shot in the back of the net over Ospina. This was his third goal against Gunners in 6 matches along with many noticeable incidents that he has had in this fixture. It was perhaps also telling that Costa’s physicality and Atletico’s defensive solidity that ultimately proved decisive, two qualities Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in recent years have so lacked.
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