Europa League [Preview]: Arsenal vs Atletico Madrid

Arsenal welcome Atletico Madrid to the Emirates Stadium for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final. The Gunners have been in a good vein of form over the past month and they will be aiming to make the most of their home fixture against Atleti, who are regarded as the favourites for the competition.

What happened over the weekend?

Arsene Wenger’s side returned to winning ways on Sunday as they secured a 4-1 triumph over West Ham United. The Hammers held the Gunners to a 1-1 scoreline until the 80th minute courtesy of Joe Hart’s brilliance but they eventually folded like a deck of cards. Alexandre Lacazette netted a brace for the north London giants.

Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, witnessed a second winless game on the bounce. The Spanish giants saw their away woes continue with a 3-0 defeat at Real Sociedad in midweek and this was followed up by a goalless stalemate against Real Betis at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Players to watch for:

Aaron Ramsey – Arsenal: The Welshman has picked up his form since his return from a groin problem in February. Ramsey has been the Gunners’ talisman during the knockout stages of the Champions League, and he has contributed four goals in as many appearances including a stellar back-flick goal versus AC Milan at the San Siro. With Mesut Ozil still struggling with an illness, the club are likely to be dependent on Ramsey to make his tireless runs into box against a solid-looking Atleti backline on most occasions.

Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid: Unlike Ramsey, Griezmann plays much further ahead in the field but his influence can be equally matched to the Welshman. Griezmann has not looked at his fluent best during the course of the campaign but he has impressed in the Europa League with three strikes in five appearances. The Frenchman was guilty of missing a couple of clear-cut opportunities in the quarter-final second leg against Sporting and he can’t afford a similar display in north London.

Prediction:

Arsenal 3-1 Atletico Madrid

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