Atletico Madrid v Arsenal

Antoine Griezmann celebrates
Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann secured a late away goal during the first leg

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Arsene Wenger wants to finish his “love story with Arsenal well” as his side face Atletico Madrid in Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg.

The Frenchman will leave the club this summer after 22 years in charge.

Arsenal travel to Madrid with the tie poised at 1-1 after Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann equalised late on in the first leg at the Emirates.

Atletico Madrid v Arsenal
Atletico Madrid v Arsenal

They must score in the second leg (20:05 BST kick-off) to stand a chance of qualification.

The Gunners’ only hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League is to win the Europa League.

They will definitely be without Wenger next term, but the 68-year-old has not yet said what his plans will be after Arsenal.

“I don’t know what I will do next season,” he said. “At the minute I think I would like to finish well my job.

“I believe a man has to give his best as long as he is somewhere, with all my commitment and energy I would like to walk out of Arsenal one day and think until the last day I focused only on Arsenal.

“When my job is finished at Arsenal I will see where I go from there but I want to finish this love story well.”

‘Our job to keep Costa quiet’

Arsenal have failed to win away from home in 2018 in the Premier League, but Wenger says their domestic record will have no bearing on the game.

“In Europe we have done well away from home and we just want to focus on the game and our performance,” he said. “The players will not be too worried about the Premier League form.”

Former Chelsea striker Diego Costa is likely to face Arsenal and Wenger says his side are aware of the threat Atletico’s strike force will pose.

He added: “He has shown that he can make a difference. He played in England and was successful but it is our job to keep him quiet. Maybe the best way to do that is to play in their half and not ours.

“Antoine Griezmann has done very well here in Madrid and unfortunately he hurt us last week. He is a player I rate very much and he has made it away from home. I think he has had an exceptional career.”

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was substituted with a knee injury during Arsenal’s defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, but the Armenian midfielder has travelled with the squad and could play, while David Ospina is expected to retain his place in goal.

250 and out?

Wenger watches on
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal lost the 2006 Champions League final against Barcelona

Arsenal’s trip to the Wanda Metropolitano will be Arsene Wenger’s 250th European game in charge of the Gunners

“The target is to get to 251 European games but I believe we come to a place which has a good history in Europe. We know exactly what to do, and how we have to behave, and that is an advantage sometimes,” said Wenger.

Atletico boast the meanest defence in La Liga and Diego Simeone’s men have only conceded three goals at home in 2018.

But Wenger says “history has to stop somewhere” as the Gunners aim to secure their third European final of his reign.

BBC Euro Leagues Football Show analysis

European football writer Julien Laurens

There were so many things wrong with that Antoine Griezmann goal at the end of the game at the Emirates, it’s almost laughable.

Arsenal had so much control and enjoyed so much possession because they were playing against 10 men for most of the game. But to concede in the way they did that will probably knock them out.

That game was so much like Arsenal’s season, but of course they can still go there and do it. This Atletico team is not that impressive but they only need a 0-0 draw. It’s going to be a fascinating game. We saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan in good form at the weekend and they will go there believing they can go through.

Italian football writer James Horncastle

Arsenal got themselves into a great position and could have beaten the opposition by an even bigger margin than 1-0, so I think it’s a big opportunity missed. Atletico do not give a lot of chances away and I think, for once, the mental blow from that first leg will be a tough one to overcome. The question at the back of the players’ minds will be ‘why aren’t we coming here with a 1-0 lead?’ If they go out in Madrid the blame will be on the first leg result.

Laurent Koscieleny in action
Laurent Koscielny in action during the first leg

Match facts

  • Arsenal are winless in their past six European visits to Spain (D2 L4), last winning in February 2006, – a 1-0 victory against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
  • On the previous two occasions Arsenal have drawn the first leg of a European semi-final, they’ve progressed to the final (1979-80 and 1993-94 Cup Winners Cup).
  • However, the past five teams to achieve a score-draw away from home in the first leg of a major European semi-final have progressed to the final, including both teams in the Europa League (Dnipro in 2014-15 and Sevilla in 2015-16).
  • Atletico have lost just one of their past 17 home games in European competition (W13 D3), but that was to an English side (Chelsea in the CL group stage this season).
  • The Gunners are aiming to qualify for their sixth major European final, and third under Arsene Wenger – they reached the Uefa Cup final in 2000 and Champions League final in 2006 under the Frenchman, losing both.
  • Alexandre Lacazette has had a hand in 13 goals in his past 13 Europa League starts (11 goals, two assists).
  • In the first leg, Arsenal had 28 shots – only Real Sociedad against Vardar (32) in October have had more in a single game in the Europa League this season.
  • Should Arsenal progress from this tie, it’d be the first time two English sides had made the final of the two major European competitions since 2005-06 (Arsenal in the Champions League, Middlesbrough in the Uefa Cup).

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