Courtesy of bet365, we’ve picked out some of the best bets available ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Atletico Madrid tomorrow night. The game will undoubtedly see the two favourites to win the competition go head to head, and with only one spot in the final next month up for grabs, you can bet we’re going to witness a showcase from two of Europe’s most fascinating sides.
On Thursday night, Arsenal host Spanish club Atletico Madrid at the Emirates Stadium in the Europa League semi-final first leg.
Arsenal heads into this game on the back of a 4-1 home win over West Ham. It was the story of the Gunners season, as they dominated the home game, but on their travels, Arsene Wenger’s team have been woeful.
However, the team from north London have a strong record in the Europa League, winning eight of their last 12 games in Europe’s secondary competition. The Gunners have also won three of their last four European games, while also scoring at least two goals in their last four games in Europe.
Rumours in football can either create excitement or dread, depending on the nature of the specific rumour. Thankfully for Arsenal fans, this specific ‘rumour’ is a little bit more substantial than most, with Daily Mirror reporting that Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa may not be fit for their UEFA Europa League semi-final first-leg game against Arsenal. Yes, it’s the same Diego Costa that once played for Chelsea and was vilified for being the sport’s equivalent of a supervillain.
Arsene Wenger’s side will need to go down the hardest possible route in order to reach the UEFA Europa League Final, as they’ve been drawn to face Spanish side Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals. The two teams have played each other once before, in a friendly back in 2009, which was won by the Gunners by a scoreline of 2-1.
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.
According to the Daily Express, Arsenal and Chelsea are set to go head-to-head this summer to sign Atletico Madrid’s highly-rated goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
The Slovenian international has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in European football in the past few seasons. The stopper has a release clause of £88million in his contract and Atletico are not likely to let him go without a fight.
On Arsenal’s wanted list
The Express claims that Oblak is on the wanted list of both London clubs as they look to add to their goalkeeping options. The Gunners are claimed to have scouted Oblak on a number of occasions.
The Express have quoted a report from Spanish newspapers AS that Arsenal are interested in bringing Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak to the Emirates this summer.
Petr Cech has often been criticized this season for some mistakes unusual for a ‘keeper of such class and experience, and the report suggests the Gunners are looking to solve the problem by bringing in the £88 million-rated Slovenian international.
Despite the criticism, Cech recently kept his 200th Premier League clean sheet – the first goalkeeper in the Premier League to do so, while David Ospina has put in a decent performance every time he was given a chance.
On Thursday night, Arsenal suffered a second 3-0 defeat against Manchester City in less than a week. In all truth, it was not a surprising outcome, as Pep Guardiola’s side are by far the best team in the country.
Arsenal were simply not good enough to compete with the champions-elect. We knew that before kick-off. In fact, many people probably knew that before the start of the season.
Europa League the last salvation
However, the defeat means that the Gunners remain ten points behind fourth-place Tottenham. It is hard to see any positives at the minute for the Gunners. The team’s last salvation this season is the Europa League, a cup much maligned by many connected with Arsenal.
Following a highly proactive winter Gunners are expected to get back in the business next summer with more signings.
Arsene Wenger landed Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the January transfer window to make a significant boost to Gunners’ attacking line but the Frenchman is now shifting focus to defensive reinforcements.
Arsenal have been linked with a move for Lazio defender Stefan de Vrij but the Netherlands international now looks closest to joining Liverpool.
De Vrij has recently admitted he would not be signing a contract extension with Lazio which prompted speculation about his future but Arsenal have admitted defeat in the race to sign the 26-year-old and shifted their attention to another target.
Arsenal wantaway midfield maestro Mesut Ozil has another club lined up in an effort to sign him.
The German international is reportedly offered a chance to return to La Liga with Spanish heavyweights Atletico Madrid said to have already made contact with the 29-year-old playmaker.
Former Real Madrid star is nearing the end of his deal with Arsenal and with no deal in sight over a contract extension at the Emirates, Gunners could opt to cash in on the World Cup winner in order to risk losing him on the free deal at the end of the season.