Arsenal are through to the semi-finals of the Europa League after a 6-3 aggregate victory over Russian side CSKA Moscow. The aggregate score sounds highly convincing. However, in reality, it was until the last 15 minutes of the second leg that the Gunners sealed progress.
Arsenal made it difficult for themselves
The second leg in Moscow was never going to be easy, despite the fact that Arsene Wenger’s side won the home leg 4-1. For much of the contest, it looked like the Gunners would cruise through until 50th minute when CSKA Moscow took a two-goal lead on the night through Kirill Nababkin.
At this point, the Russian side only had to score one more goal to level the tie on aggregate and hold the advantage of having scored an away goal. Thankfully, for the Gunners, a Danny Welbeck goal with just 15 minutes slightly killed the home side’s momentum before Aaron Ramsey struck a second goal in stoppage-time.
In true Arsenal fashion, they had to make it difficult and at two goals down there must have been doubts in the minds of the Gunners players. However, they had just enough quality and determination to make it through to the next round.
Hoping to avoid Atletico Madrid
The draw for the semi-finals of the Europa League takes place later today in Switzerland. The Gunners will be joined by Marseille and Salzburg in the last four of the competition.
However, Arsene Wenger’s side will be looking to avoid Spanish side Atletico Madrid, who are favourites to lift the trophy are evens to win the trophy this season.
Diego Simeone’s side are the best team left in the competition. Los Rojiblancos usually frequent the Champions League latter stages. However, the Spaniards endured a poor group stage campaign.
Their recent form has been inconsistent, but they are solid at the back and in forwards Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa have two of the top forwards in European football.
None of Arsenal’s Europa League opponents has been close to Atletico Madrid in terms of sheer quality. If the Gunners produced a display against Atletico like they did in the second leg against CSKA, then they would be heading out of the competition.
Whether Arsenal continues their Europa League journey will greatly depend on who they are drawn against in today’s draw. The Gunners need to win the Europa League to redeem some of the fans faith, which is badly needed at present.
Who will be Arsenal’s opponents in the Europa League semi-finals?