Burnley

Burnley slideshow

These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
Arsenal's Europa League hopes in the balance as they gift 10-man Atletico Madrid late away goal
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
Arsenal's Europa League hopes in the balance as they gift 10-man Atletico Madrid late away goal
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
Arsenal's Europa League hopes in the balance as they gift 10-man Atletico Madrid late away goal
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
Arsenal's Europa League hopes in the balance as they gift 10-man Atletico Madrid late away goal
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
Arsenal's Europa League hopes in the balance as they gift 10-man Atletico Madrid late away goal
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
Arsenal's Europa League hopes in the balance as they gift 10-man Atletico Madrid late away goal
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
Arsenal's Europa League hopes in the balance as they gift 10-man Atletico Madrid late away goal
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
Arsenal's Europa League hopes in the balance as they gift 10-man Atletico Madrid late away goal
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
Arsenal's Europa League hopes in the balance as they gift 10-man Atletico Madrid late away goal
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
Arsenal's Europa League hopes in the balance as they gift 10-man Atletico Madrid late away goal
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of possession and working the ball around the final third nicely. Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 8:21PM 15 mins Well that was exciting. Now back to the football! 8:19PM RED CARD FOR SIMEONE! Diego Simeone has been sent to the stands! He's had a meltdown, screaming and roaring at the officials, demanding a yellow card for a foul by an Arsenal player. It's never a yellow card either, Simeone's just lost his head. Bellerin fouls the player but it's not a booking. Simeone doesn't find the laughing, waving Arsenal fans as comedic as some others in the ground. 8:17PM 12 mins I can confirm that Vrsaljko was extremely unhappy about that decision and took ages to leave the pitch, then had to be held back from shouting at someone by some Atletico staff. I can't help but feel if he hadn't fouled two Arsenal players very early on in the game, he might not have had this problem. 8:15PM 10 mins - RED CARD! It's a second yellow card for Vrsaljko! He goes in late and hard on Lacazette and catches him! It's a definite yellow card, he has to go! 8:13PM 8 mins GREAT SAVE BY OBLAK! Arsenal are all over Atletico and the attacks are coming down that left wing. Another cross into the area, this time by Monreal, is met by Lacazette's header from 12 yards! Oblak reacts, getting a strong left glove behind it and preventing the goal. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 7 min) 8:11PM 7 mins CHANCE FOR LACAZETTE! The ball is turned over in the Arsenal half, Xhaka plays it left, Welbeck comes onto it and hits a brilliant cross to the edge of the box where Lacazette is ready to receive! He shoots but doesn't connect properly and puts it over! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 6 min) 8:10PM 6 mins Arsenal keeping the ball well here. They're getting forward early on and putting Atletico under pressure! Ozil turns up on the right halfspace, plays the ball to his right and the cross is excellent! Headed away from just in front of the goalkeeper. This is a great start from Arsenal. 8:08PM 4 mins Bellerin gets high up the right wing and wins a corner. Xhaka comes across to take it, sends it into the area and Atletico manage to get it away but hand possession back to Arsenal when they get past halfway. 8:07PM 2 mins There's an early yellow Vrsaljko as he fouls Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, just as Arsenal looked good for the attack. Atletico in a bit of a muddle early on! 8:05PM KICK OFF! kick off 1 Here we go! 8:01PM The Emirates has put on a show! 7:55PM Go for the goal The Europa League needs a new theme tune. I would like to continue my campaign to promote 'Go For The Goal' as its official replacement. 7:43PM Diego Costa on the bench Credit: REUTERS He was supposed to be injured! The man who loves to torment Arsenal's defence is back in London and could well appear off the bench for Atletico late in the game as they look for a crucial away goal. 7:15PM Five reasons Arsenal should be optimistic Five reasons Arsenal should be confident facing Atletico Madrid 7:06PM Arsene Wenger wants a gritty performance "Every decision is tough, I believe Petr Cech just comes back from injury I don't feel he's completely recovered. He suffers still a little bit, he's available but Ospina has played the whole competition and played well recently. "Ideally, honestly, I don't mind who scores as long as we score. The weight of the away goal is huge, the ideal is to score and not concede. It has not been our strongest point this season and we have to use our strength, and maybe everybody has to work harder than usual, do work they don't normally do." 7:00PM Why Arsenal might struggle tonight Arsenal’s Achilles’ heel Atletico Madrid have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga this season, defending in a highly structured 4-4-2 and punishing teams with quick attacks. They are effectively a finely-tuned Spanish version of Burnley, with some of the world’s best players doing the kind of dogsbody defending that Arsenal often come unstuck against. Newcastle pulled off a 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s team in a similar way, defending in numbers, picking the pockets of overly patient passing players and winning battles high up the pitch. A different kind of opponent Where Atletico won the ball back against Chelsea. Everywhere. Teams who play in such a defensive style tend to have limited resources and a lower quality of player. Atletico are different. In their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December, a team made of players like Koke, Saul and Antoine Griezmann made 23 tackles to Chelsea’s nine with every player instructed to hunt down, intercept or steal the ball from opponents. Atletico have made 22.7 tackles per game in the Europa League this season compared to Arsenal’s 12.9. Interfering with Arsenal’s play Simeone’s team come out snapping and don’t let teams pass through them or have time on the ball, Arsenal could be forced wide with their attacking play where it is ineffective. Diego Godin and Stefan Savic are excellent in the air, which makes crossing an unlikely source of goals - against Chelsea, Atletico won 17 aerial duels to Chelsea’s 13. Arsenal leave space behind the full-backs West Ham had joy early on at the Emirates by sitting deep and hitting long balls into the space behind the advanced full-backs for Marko Arnautovic to chase. They created two decent chances doing just this and with Antoine Griezmann on the hunt, Arsenal must be careful not to commit too many forward in attack as they try to break down the walls of Atletico defence. 6:57PM The man of the hour Credit: GETTY IMAGES It would be really nice if Arsenal's players turn up tonight and put it in a determined shift, battling their way to a solid two goal lead to take back to Madrid... but I can't see it happening. Simeone's team is so well drilled, structured and rigid that it'll take something special to take them apart. Wenger's best teams could have done it, this one has a lot to live up to. 6:52PM Arsenal starting lineup Here it is - our team for #AFCvATLpic.twitter.com/ok796dnSGH— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. If Arsene is to do it, it will be his way: four at the back, and the sub keeper in goal. https://t.co/Q42yL2iCkn— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 26, 2018 6:45PM Atletico Madrid starting lineup ���� | ALINEACIÓN ¡Ya está aquí, nuestro ONCE para abrir estas semifinales de @EuropaLeague! ��⚪��¡Atleeeeeeeeeeeti!#ArsenalAtleti#AúpaAtleti#UELpic.twitter.com/xlhoXKlmWZ— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2018 Diego Costa makes the bench and it is a 4-4-2! Nothing fancy from Simeone tonight. 6:33PM Arsene Wenger's programme notes This is his last ever home European game as Arsenal manager: "Let's all be together tonight and make sure that we give ourselves the best possible chance of ending the season with a trophy." Tonight's programme features the boss' penultimate exclusive programme notes and a chance to win the matchball - so if you're going to #AFCvATL, make sure you pick one up �� pic.twitter.com/xKmrb6iEYO— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018 6:21PM Cazorla on the mend Lovely to see Santi Cazorla running around the Emirates pitch looking happy and healthy, says he’s getting there!— Lynsey Hipgrave (@lynseyhipgrave1) April 26, 2018 6:14PM Santi Cazorla is running on the pitch! A welcome sight! It's Santi doing some jogging around the Emirates pitch. Credit: OFFSIDE Ooooh this is lovely to see. It's only Santi bloody Cazorla out on the Emirates pitch!!!! pic.twitter.com/uZHdQiko5c— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 26, 2018 I wonder... he couldn't be... back tonight? Could he? File that under: no. 5:24PM Operation: Reward Wenger Good evening everyone and welcome to another edition of Arsenal players trying to redeem themselves for the departing Arsene Wenger. Tonight's show comes live from the Emirates with the mighty Atletico Madrid playing the role of villains. It's a Europa League semi-final and one that Arsenal really need and want to win. A dismal season could be brightened up with the lifting of a European trophy and if they can navigate this perilous level, the last boss will be in sight. Credit: GETTY IMAGES The most important thing tonight is that Arsenal don't concede and hand advantage to Diego Simeone, who manages a team which rarely concedes goals. They've let in only 18 in La Liga all season - Arsenal have conceded 46. Team news should be in soon, Arsenal fans are making their way towards the Emirates for a kick-off time of 8:05pm - perfect for those leaving work to have a pre-match drink and get in the mood - and you can follow all the action with us here in this very liveblog.
Arsenal's Europa League hopes in the balance as they gift 10-man Atletico Madrid late away goal
These last days of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager were supposed to be scripted as a final crescendo for the club that once nearly conquered Europe but when the tributes were cleared away and the real business started again, the Arsenal of late-era Wenger were just the same as ever. The Clock End dial was at 9.45pm when Antoine Griezmann scampered towards the home goal, one of the most dangerous attackers in Europe benefiting from a sequence of Arsenal errors that were the undoing of Wenger’s side. They had been playing the ten men of Atletico Madrid for 80 minutes of this Europa League semi-final first leg and were about to concede a goal that would have been embarrassing if they had been facing 11 men. A great manager is stepping from the stage and next Thursday in Madrid perhaps there will be time for one more stroke of genius when the years are rolled back and Arsenal cut a formidable opponent down to size the way they once could. That is how they would like to say goodbye, with a final in Lyon on May 16 and one last trophy, but to do so they must go to Madrid and atone for the missed opportunities and mistakes of Wenger’s last ever European home tie. They dominated the game against an Atletico side who were without their full-back Sime Vrsaljko for 80 minutes, and shortly afterwards lost their manager Diego Simeone, sent to the stands for excessive rage and the kind of language that looked offensive even to non-Spanish speakers. With Atletico down to ten men and denied Simeone’s brooding presence on the touchline, Arsenal could only draw and concede an away goal that means they must score next week in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal After his dismissal by the French referee Clement Turpin, the Atletico manager later appeared in the second tier of the Emirates Stadium loitering by the doors of the directors’ box like a hitman, just a few yards behind Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive. Gazidis may have noticed how even with Simeone absent from the touchline, Atletico looked every inch their manager’s team: resolute, well-organised and shrewd enough to take their chance when it presented itself. Simeone was always a long shot to succeed Wenger, with a new contract at Atletico and a healthy mistrust of English clubs and their ways. His temper blew on 14 minutes amid a rapid escalation of hostilities. First the Croatian full-back Vrsaljko was given a second yellow card, and then Simeone was ordered to the stand as he raged on the touchline in dark suit, dark tie, dark shirt and a very dark mood. Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two bookable offences inside the opening 10 minutes Credit: AFP His Atletico team took the best that Arsenal could throw at them, 28 attempts on goal, eight on target, and they rolled with the punches after Alexandre Lacazette scored after the hour. The Frenchman was outstanding for Arsenal and by the end it was telling that Wenger did not make a single substitution, so limited were his attacking options from the bench. It would have mattered less if they had not given up that Griezmann goal, which stood as a motif for many of the most frustrating elements of Wenger’s team. There was a long punt from Jose Maria Gimenez, one of the two excellent Atletico centre-halves, then Laurent Koscielny got the wrong side, David Ospina deflected a rebound straight at Griezmann and when the little Frenchman was faced with a tough job of finishing, Shkodran Mustafi fell over on the goal-line. Diego Simeone was sent to the stands Credit: Reuters You could say it was unfortunate but it has happened too many times to this Arsenal team for it to be a surprise no matter that the occasion demanded something different. Later Wenger said that the red card for Vrsaljko disrupted “the flow” of the game and suggested that Atletico going down to ten men was not particularly in his team’s favour. Vrsaljko was booked within the first two minutes for a silly foul on Jack Wilshere with the referee Turpin determined to get his cards out. It meant that when the Croat was lamentably late on Lacazette there was no hesitation in giving him a second yellow and Simeone was boiling on the bench. He lost it when referee Turpin failed to book Hector Bellerin minutes later. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring Credit: Reuters Judging from the conversation that ensued, Simeone’s old friend and assistant German Burgos, the former Argentina goalkeeper who looks like a character from an Asterix book, was trying to claim responsibility for whatever had been said. Turpin was having none of it and Simeone was dispatched to wander the corridors of the Emirates alone, quietly plotting revenge. It is not the first time he has been sent off in a cup match. Atletico adjusted, with Griezmann dropping to the left side of midfield and Thomas Partey taking Vrsaljko’s place at full-back. As you might expect they were solid and quick to the ball, marshalled by Burgos on the touchline. Jan Oblak had made an outstanding save from Lacazette in the early stages and he and the centre-half Diego Godin were commanding throughout. Arsenal's players after Griezmann's late sucker punch Credit: Reuters Arsenal had the away side pressed back before the goal and eventually Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere worked an opening well after Nacho Monreal had won the ball back high up the pitch. Wilshere crossed to the back post and Lacazette’s leap was excellent, with enough power to hang and nudge his header out of Oblak’s range and inside the post. Santi Cazorla had briefly warmed up before the game, a reminder of what the club have lost, and then in the last ten minutes it went sour for Arsenal, the Atletico bench joyful, knowing that they had done a fine job and that upstairs, their brooding boss would be happy. 10:42PM What might Arsenal have achieved with support like this over the past few years? Here's a bit from Jeremy Wilson's piece from tonight on the advantage of a passionate crowd: The whole concept of home advantage has by contrast seemed always to puzzle Wenger - “the football pitch is almost the same size everywhere” - but, on what was his last really big night at the Emirates as Arsenal manager, perhaps he now believes. 10:20PM Arsene Wenger's words "Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result for us. We have to go there in the best possible move and qualify there, unfortunately we gave a goal away from nowhere. "We could already be qualified basically tonight but it didn't happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves, they had the quality upfront to take advantage. They could not score goal from combination, only from long ball and we can only look at ourselves. "Look you don't look at statistics, you look at your own performance. We can score anywhere. See what we can do over there. *Sighs* "How doesn't matter, what matters is you go there with absolute belief to do that." 10:16PM Koscielny kicking the ball off his own face Credit: AP It's easy to say 'Koscielny should have done this or that' but he panics when he realises he's in trouble and loses composure. He jumps to clear this ball early, which makes sense, but puts it into his own face - something of a rough metaphor - and puts Griezmann through on goal. Martin Keown has pointed out he should never have been caught the wrong side of the striker in the first place but that he could easily have shielded this one wide and out of play. It's poor defending. 10:12PM Keown is laying into the Arsenal defence "Certain building blocks are not there with the defence, it's one ball down the middle. "[Atletico] don't over commit, they just slide across, they don't panic." 10:09PM Danny Welbeck's predictable post-match words "It's disappointing, to take the lead and concede a goal so late. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, go into next week positive. This game is done we have to see what we can do. "There was opportunities for us to score, we're disappointed with that, but it gives us some positivity going into the second leg knowing we can create opportunities against such a good side. "We know we can score against them, we did it tonight. We can create opportunities, hopefully we can put them in the back of the net. "You don't need extra incentive to get to the final, we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after he said." Lacazette "It's not enough we wanted to win. It's my job to score goals but I can't score without my teammates. "I really want to play in the final, maybe the player who wants the most in the team!" He means that last bit because the final is in Lyon, which is where he played most of his career. 10:04PM Wasteful Arsenal Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal That was a typical Arsenal performance. Patient, professional, nice on the ball but then they shoot themselves in the foot with that one mistake they're always liable to make. They had so many chances, didn't take them and then let themselves down with bad defending. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 10:00PM Reaction Ok, Arsenal should have scored about six against a team reduced to 10 for 80 minutes, but they can't fixate on the away goal etc. Need to back themselves to win in Madrid. 1-1ft.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) April 26, 2018 Martin Keown: "There's no balance to the play, it's the end of an era". Atletico Madrid haven't conceded a goal at home since January 20.— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 26, 2018 9:58PM Martin Keown on the result "There's no line, you cannot give this sort of player space. Mustafi falls over, it's a disappointing eve for Arsenal. It looks like the tie is almost over." 9:57PM FULL TIME Arsene Wenger's last ever Arsenal European home game ends in disappointment after a mistake by his captain gifts a goal to the away side. 9:56PM 90 mins +3 The fans are urging their team forward. Ozil has a corner to take, he hits across the box, it lands with Xhaka on the edge of the box! He can pull the trigger here.... Gross. That's a dreadful attempt. He swipes at the ball, scuffing it wide and high. And that's it! 9:54PM 90 mins +2 Simeone is pacing back and forth up in the stands, Arsenal can't seem to get the ball near the box and keep it. Time running out to grab a second goal. 9:52PM 90 mins Arsenal corner. Ramsey tries to shoot inside the box and wins another corner. That one is cleared at the near post, Arsenal go back to the goalkeeper. 9:51PM 88 mins Koscielny does well to keep the ball in play but Xhaka's only available pass is inside the pitch and the ball goes backwards to him. Atletico can get back in shape and the chance to attack has gone. 9:50PM 86 mins Well well well. That goal was just *sooooo* Arsenal and the players should be fuming with the defence's lapse in concentration. The attackers are still working hard and Ramsey has just forced Oblak into an excellent save witha header from close range. 9:45PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! atletico madrid goal GRIEZMANN HAS SCORED! That was always the danger! A momentary switch off and the entire tie could turn. That's what's happened. Arsenal play a line far too high for the final 10 minutes of this game, Koscielny gets caught out and chases Griezmann then is nowhere near good enough to win the ball back off him. Griezmann holds him off easily, rounds the goalkeeper and puts the ball over Mustafi, who's flapping around the floor as he desperately tries to stop the goal. Arsenal 1 - 1 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 82 min) 9:44PM 82 mins Atletico are in Arsenal's half! What is this about?! Not for long though... and Arsenal win the ball back and get forward. They've given it away! GRIEZMANN IS IN! 9:43PM 80 mins Lacazette finds space on the left, has Welbeck inside but can't shift his weight quickly enough to get the ball into the box. Chance gone. Arsenal have made 608 passes to Atletico's 155. Arsenal vs Atlético 9:40PM 77 mins Savic on, Correa off. That's another centre-back on for a creative, attacking midfielder. Arsenal in total control of possession but you get this feeling that Atletico only need one opportunity to counter-attack. That said, they have nobody with any energy left and absolutely no-one to pass the ball to when they do get it. 9:37PM 75 mins Xhaka tries a shot from range but blasts it over. Out: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Granit Xhaka, 74 min) 9:34PM 72 mins Atletico hanging on, they've got the sandbags out, they're falling deeper and deeper and Arsenal are piling on the pressure, getting the ball in the box whenever they can. The state of this: Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético 9:33PM 70 mins CHANCE FOR ARSENAL! A corner is whipped into the area, Lacazette steals it from Monreal but flicks his header wide of the far post. Miss: Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 69 min) 9:31PM 68 mins After what feels like 10 minutes of the same routine, a switched ball, a back pass, a sideways pass, a switched ball etc, Arsenal work the ball into the area and Lacazette fizzes a low cross into the area. Welbeck is a yard behind the play and a tap-in goes begging. Good patient play from the Gunners. 9:29PM 66 mins Gameiro comes off to be replaced by Gabi. Arsenal switching flanks with their passing, dragging Atletico around. They'll be getting tired chasing the ball around all night. 9:27PM 64 mins Arsenal get the ball back and have Atletico constantly defending. Ozil turns his man with a brilliant bit of skill off-the-ball and drills it low across the box. Oblak is fouled as it spins off a defender and goes into the air. Atletico want to get out of this one without conceding again! 9:23PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! arsenal goal LACAZETTE SCORES! Wilshere gets to the line and chips into the area, Lacazette jumps early and hangs in the air, before placing his header low into the corner. Oblak can't get close. Arsenal 1 - 0 Atlético (Alexandre Lacazette, 61 min) 9:23PM 60 mins Credit: ACTION PLUS Still Arsenal have the ball and still they can't find a way past the walls of defence. Wilshere latches onto a mistake by Griezmann though... he might be in here! 9:22PM 59 mins Possession: Arsenal vs Atlético Look at how deep Atletico's average touch is! Average touch positions (58 min) A handball by Bellerin gives them a respite from constant pressure. 9:20PM 57 mins That's the entire Atletico team (except goalkeeper). The midfield aren't leaving space between them and the defence either - Arsenal cannot get the ball anywhere with room to use it. 9:18PM 55 mins Wilshere goes down on the edge of the box after a quick-fire one-two with Ozil, the referee says plan on, Monreal hits a cross to nobody from the left. Atletico defending with everyone behind the ball, Arsenal need to find a way past a wall of defenders! 9:16PM 53 mins Credit: REUTERS 9:15PM 52 mins Xhaka gets all shirty with an Atletico player, standing forehead to forehead to express their dislike for each other. It's so stupid but the referee decides to let the pair off without warning. 9:12PM 50 mins Griezmann keeps asking for yellow cards when Arsenal players have the audacity to tackle members of his team. The referee gives him a very stern 'wise up' look after his latest attempt to earn Ramsey a booking. 9:10PM 48 mins Atletico start on the attack but Arsenal defend well and Lacazette very nearly gets the ball forward to start a counter-attack with a clever little flick but hits a body. Welbeck gets in on the left and lifts a cross to nobody in particular. Arsenal keep the ball moving around the final third. 9:08PM KICK OFF 2 arsenal atletico We're back! 9:04PM Simeone on the prowl Simeone's the guy who gets kicked out of the bar for fighting and then paces outside just in case dude comes out because he's got something for him pic.twitter.com/wflSH1dRGY— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) April 26, 2018 9:02PM Arsenal's shots on goal 15 - Arsenal have had 15 shots (inc. blocks) against Atlético; their most in the first half of a game without scoring since December 2017 against Manchester United (also 15). Guarded. pic.twitter.com/Dl2RndmvP3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2018 Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal 8:57PM Analysis Well, well, well. The scoreline is what we expected. What we didn't think would happen is a red card so early into a semi-final - usually referees give players a bit of room to make a mistake. Not tonight! That sending off has meant Atletico have to turn the defending up to 11 rather than just 10 but hasn't actually altered too much in the game. Arsenal are good with the ball but lack bite and penetration in the final third, and worryingly, keep missing their chances. Average touch positions (half time) And actually, Atletico have gone closest to scoring with Griezmann's two chances. Like Welbeck, he hit them at the goalkeeper instead of any other part of the goal. Both teams will regret not taking the opportunities they've been handed. 8:53PM HALF TIME! That's it for the first 45. 8:51PM 45 mins +1 Arsenal win a corner, it's hooked to the back post, taken down and a shot at goal hits the defender and goes out for a throw. Atletico have everyone behind the ball. 8:49PM 45 mins Credit: REUTERS Correa manages to get a shot away from inside the area but leans back and boots it way over. That photo is of Simeone standing in the stands - there are no seats for him. Not that he'd want one. 8:48PM 44 mins Griezmann is throwing himself to the floor dramatically whenever he gets the chance. It's absolutely pathetic. Boooooooooooo. Xhaka tries to get the ball from him, staying tight on his back and the Frenchman falls in AGONY. The referee doesn't care. 8:46PM 42 mins What a ball by Ospina! He catches it in the air, looks up and pings a 70 yard pass out to Lacazette on the left wing. Lacazette controls and puts a pass forwards towards the runner but gives possession straight back to Atletico. 8:44PM 40 mins Xhaka hears people in the crowd shouting "SHOOT" and, as football law dictates, tries a shot. It goes high and wide. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal They've been so wasteful. Atletico have grown into the game. 8:43PM 37 mins Understandably, Godin takes his time over a free-kick and invites jeers from the Arsenal crowd. The ball is pumped up to the box and all of a sudden GRIEZMANN IS IN! Partey steals the ball, holds hit up and dribbles all the way into the area! Griezmann's shot is hit down the middle and Ospina can save! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 37 min) Anywhere else and that was in the back of the net! 8:39PM 35 mins There's a comedy interlude as the ball is replaced because, somehow, it's burst. Bellerin and Hernandez went into a 50/50 and murdered the football. 8:38PM 33 mins GRIEZMAAAAANNNNNN - saved! It's a great save too! The ball drops for Griezmann to shoot, he takes the chance and drills it low towards the bottom corner. Ospina gets down quickly to block. Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Antoine Griezmann, 33 min) 8:36PM 31 mins Another missed chance for Arsenal, who are dominating the game but just cannot finish. This time Monreal shoots wide of goal from outside the area. Arsenal vs Atlético shots on goal Atletico enjoy a rare bit of the ball and some indecision in the final third by Arsenal's defence gives them a chance to keep it there. 8:33PM 28 mins Ramsey goes into a sliding tackle on Correa and takes him down (it's actually a decent, strong tackle) and the referee doesn't buy the hysterics. Correa rolls around the floor a bit but gets to his feet seconds after when he realises that no punishment is heading Ramsey's way. 8:32PM 26 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Jeremy Corbyn's at the Emirates tonight. Everyone around him is laughing, waving and cheering as Simeone is sent to the stands, except that tool in the front of the photograph trying to ruin the fun. It's a game, mate. Cool the aggression down. 8:29PM 24 mins Lacazette goes down in the area! That looks like an exaggerated fall to me, on the verge of a dive. It's never a penalty. He jumps into Godin and goes down - he's lucky not to be booked. The referee has a job on his hands calming this down, Atletico are wired to the moon. He's got everything correct so far so at least both teams can agree he's consistent. 8:27PM 22 mins KOSCIELNY MUST SCORE! NO! He's missed a huge chance at the back post! Miss: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Laurent Koscielny, 21 min) Arsenal have been practising their crossing but not their finishing on this evidence. They are pulling Atletico apart with their passing, it's brilliant to watch, unless you happen to support Atletico of course. 8:26PM 21 mins Credit: GETTY IMAGES Another chance for Welbeck! Arsenal need to take these chances, this isn't good enough! Welbeck is played in to the box and has Oblak to beat, from a pretty narrow angle, but passes it straight into his legs! Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Danny Welbeck, 21 min) 8:24PM 19 mins Here come Arsenal again! They have men over! Intricate passes link it all together, Welbeck crosses to the back post for Wilshere's run... but he heads straight at goal. Really poor from Wilshere. He needed to put power and direction on that Attempt Saved: Arsenal 0 - 0 Atlético (Jack Wilshere, 18 min) 8:22PM 17 mins Welbeck sort-of connects with a header sent in from the left side but the shot is harmless. Arsenal in control of p