Arsenal are back in Europa League action this week as they welcome Atletico Madrid to the Emirates Stadium.
With news of Arsene Wenger’s imminent departure fresh in minds, Arsenal will enter this game looking to push on and give the Frenchman a much desired European trophy that has eluded him throughout his 22 years at the Gunners.
Atletico Madrid however are the most dangerous team left in Europe so will be looking to spoil the party.
Arsenal could have Mesut Ozil back from illness as they face a slight midfield crisis.
Mohamed Elneny is out with an ankle injury, whilst Jack Wilshire faces a late fitness test as he fights to overcome a minor ankle issue.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back training after recovering from a knee ligament injury. Thursday’s match however has come too soon for the Armenian.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is cup tied, having played in Europe with Borussia Dortmund already this season.
Atletico Madrid will have ex Chelsea striker, Diego Costa available for this tie after the Spaniard overcame a hamstring injury despite his chances looking bleak at the weekend.
Right back, Juanfran will miss the first leg because of a hamstring injury.
Since drawing 2-2 in Moscow to qualify for this stage, Arsenal have won and lost one of their two league games, scoring in both.
At home, the Gunners have lost just twice in 2018 but are unbeaten in their last six home games across all competitions, scoring 20 goals and conceding just five.
Alexandre Lacazette is their top home scorer with five goals during this run, ahead of Danny Welbeck and the cup-tied Emerick-Aubameyang.
Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in two of their three league games during the fortnight gap between European action, with the only defeat coming away at Real Sociedad.
In fact, Atletico haven’t won any of their last four away games across all competitions, losing three and drawing 1-1 at Real Madrid.
- This will be the first ever competitive meeting between these teams.
- At home this season in Europe, Arsenal have scored 16 goals between 12 different goal scorers with four players joint top on two goals apiece (Kolasinac, Lacazette, Ramsey & Welbeck).
- Mesut Ozil has made four assists for the Gunners in Europe this season.
- Arsene Wenger will face new opposition for the 125th time as Arsenal manager, losing just ten of his first matches against new opposition.
- Diego Costa scored three goals in six appearances against Arsenal during his stint at Chelsea.
- Diego Simeone is yet to lose an European game in England in three visits, winning once and drawing twice against Chelsea (W1 D1) and Leicester City (D1).
- Atletico Madrid have won their two previous Europa League semi-finals against Liverpool (2009-10) and Valencia (2011-12).
Arsenal are in imperious home form and coupled with Atletico’s away woes, I can see the Gunners trying to get a first leg lead here.
Simeone however is unbeaten in England with Atletico so a score draw here probably is going to be a good bet.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Result: Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid