Arsenal travel to Madrid tonight to play an Atlético side who are as tough as it gets. A fixture that more has a feeling of a Champions League cup tie, Arsenal make the journey to the newly built Wanda Metropolitano knowing that, although they don’t need to win on the night, they do have to score. Against a team notorious for their defensive capabilities, it is sure to be a testing night for Arsenal, yet the gunners will have that extra incentive to ensure Arsène Wenger gets the send off his 22 years deserve!
After a largely entertaining and encouraging first leg for Arsenal at the Emirates, the gunners were dealt a sucker punch blow as Antoine Griezmann scored within the last ten minutes of the match. By no means is 1-1 against a very astute Atlético a poor result, but given the circumstances and just how well Arsenal played, there was always the inevitable sense of missed opportunities. Countless chances either went begging from a lack of composure or sure brilliance from the Madrid keeper, Jan Oblak. Šime Vrsaljko’s dismissal in the 10th minute, in theory, gave Arsenal a huge advantage, however it really meant that Atlético sat even deeper, resulting in there being even less space for Arsenal to pick through.
In some ways, however, going to the game with a 1-1 first leg scoreline could be beneficial. This is because it gives Arsenal a clear incentive, they either score or they go out, providing they keep Atlético at bay, too, of course. It wouldn’t be in Arsène’s nature to go to Madrid and sit back for 90 minuets, which could have been the case if they went into the second leg with an advantage. Scoring at Atlético, however, is easier said than done. Considering they have only let in 4 at home all season, Arsenal’s toughest task may perhaps not be keeping Madrid’s attack in line. Atlético simply get a joy from defending, exemplified by Diego Godin, their captain, who celebrates a last ditch tackle as much as a goal. This simply isn’t in Arsenal’s DNA, so for all gunners fans, we all hope that the Arsenal frontline has a stormer.
Either way, Arsenal have a huge challenge tonight in overcoming a very fierce Atlético Madrid side. In which is potentially Arsenal’s biggest game in recent times, will we see an historic Arsenal display, galvanised by the news of Arsène Wenger’s retirement? We shall see.