In terms of results, Arsenal’s 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid at the Emirates Stadium in the Europa League semi-final first leg was not the worst in the world.
However, the result does not tell the whole story. It does not tell how Arsenal dominated the game. It also does not tell how the Gunners played against Atletico for over 80 minutes of the game. Overall, the draw is a missed opportunity considering the circumstances.
Dominated the game
The Gunners looked up for the game and it would be difficult to claim that Arsene Wenger’s did not dominate the game. They had a massive 28 attempts on goal, but Alexandre Lacazette’s was the only effort that managed to get past the highly-rated Atletico ‘keeper Jan Oblak.
The fact that Atletico barely had a sniff of goal until calamitous defending saw Antoine Griezmann equalise with just eight minutes left on the clock. The moment was typical of the Gunners poor defensive displays in recent years.
Atletico one of Europe’s best defensive units
Atletico Madrid are one of Europe’s best defensive units, despite the fact that the Spanish visitors were missing their two first-choice full-backs and lost their right-back Sime Vrsaljko to a dismissal after just ten minutes.
There is probably no worse team to attempt to break down in Europe than Atletico. The sending off only made the visitors more compact. That defensive solidity has seen Atletico appear in five European semi-finals in the last eight years.
Simeone and his coaching staff have Atletico drilled to within inches of their life. The fact Arsenal managed to create so many chances is quite remarkable, even when Los Rojiblancos went down to ten men.
Second leg now difficult
Arsenal may have thrown away their best chance of progress. A trip to the Wanda Metropolitano next Thursday for the second leg will be highly difficult one. The fact that Simeone’s side has not conceded a goal on home soil in three months shows just how much of a challenge Arsenal faces.
Arsenal are odds of 4/1 to win in the Spanish capital. If the Gunners do it then it will no doubt be a memorable victory and a night to remember.
However, it is difficult to escape the feeling that the Gunners will live to regret not taking their chances in the first leg or their defensive mistakes that led to Griezmann’s potentially vital equaliser.
Has Arsenal missed their chance to make it to the Europa League final?