Massive excitement and expectation surrounded this great opportunity to send Mr Wenger off to his retirement with the decent divorce settlement of his first European trophy. Could we take some chances at the sharp end while defending successfully at the other? Simeone has constructed a team which few would want to go and see every week (I bet the Atletico supporters disagree with this assessment). Would Costa come back to haunt us or would it be a case of Griezmann up top on his own? The ground was pretty full when we arrived, the flags looked good and the atmosphere was buzzing with an electricity suitable for a game of such magnitude.
Arsenal came out of the blocks at a furious pace. The referee immediately issued a yellow card for what looked like a soft challenge from the stands. Lacazette hit the post with a scuffer and then hit the goalkeeper with a close range header. The second yellow looked soft, too, though, having seen a replay, it looked much nastier, number 16’s studs crunching down on Laca’s instep. How many players would be left on the pitch after 90 minutes if this was to be the yellow card issuing rate?
80 minutes to take advantage of playing against 10 men. Could we find a way around the biggest and most skillfully parked bus in the whole of European football? Chances came and went. Danny broke through but caught the keeper’s foot with his attempt when a far post curler was beckoning. Mesut skied one, Kos couldn’t wrap his foot around a ball dropping to him at the far post following a corner, Nacho’s right footed volley went just wide; the ball just wouldn’t go in. Atletico’s defending was magnificent, with blocks and interceptions at crucial moments littering the first half an hour.
Atletico finally managed to get a foothold in the game towards half time and Griezmann twice found opportunities to shoot and test Ospina. 0-0 at half time, surely the goals would come in the second period?
The second period seemed like a non-stop procession towards the North Bank end of the stadium. Shots rained in on the Atletico goal, it had to be only a matter of time. On the hour that moment came. Jack stood up a delightful cross worthy of Liam Brady after Nacho had won the ball back on the edge of the opposition area. Laca rose Arshavin-like at the far post and planted the ball firmly past Oblak at last. The stadium erupted.
A crucial second goal failed to materialise thanks to great goalkeeping, superb body-on-the-line defending and some less than perfect finishing. Atletico used every tactic imaginable to disrupt the flow of the game, substitutions seemed to take minutes, players fell over at the slightest contact trying to buy breathing space, every restart from throws, free kicks and goal kicks was used to eat up so much valuable time.
We were all hoping that our defence would remain solid right up until the final whistle because conceding against ten men after such dominance would be heart-breaking. However, this current incarnation of Arsene’s team always seem to have one calamitous moment, locked away to disappoint us, where what can possibly go wrong, does go wrong.
With less than 10 to go, Danny overran the ball on the left flank gifting possession to Atletico. The ball was played forward to Griezmann, stood behind Kos, but both Monreal and Mustafi were playing him onside. Kos recovered beautifully judging the ball much better than the Atleti player but then decided that playing the ball back over his head was the best option. This seemed to be Kos’ only mistake of the game but what a costly one! Ospina parried Griezmann’s first effort and then Mustafi slipped as he tried to block the second but still got a knee on it. The ball was in the Arsenal net from Atletico’s only chance of the half – a familiar story, unfortunately.
Perhaps a winner might have lifted us all from the gloom of that away goal conceded but despite good efforts from Rambo and Welbeck plus a skied blast from Xhaka, 1-1 was destined to be Atletico’s reward for soaking up all that pressure.
Surprisingly it seemed to be the Arsenal team who had run out of steam in that second period rather than the 10 men of the Spanish side.
Ratings (tempting to give all sixes and sevens, but that was only one moment in the match 🙂 )
Ospina – Fairly untroubled, did well against Griezmann and had little chance with the goal when it finally came … 7
Bellerin – Looked dangerous, especially in the first half and produced some fine moments throughout … 7
Mustafi – Not much to do the whole game against one striker after the sending off. Why did he have to slip for the one and only time at that precise moment? … 6
Koscielny – Such a shame his defending in last night’s game will be remembered for that crazy decision to play it clever with Griezmann … 6
Monreal – Tireless as ever, worked his nuts off – again the goal is all we will remember, jogged back after the failed step up for offside … 6
Wilshere – Still looks short of confidence but must be proud of that assist … 6
Xhaka – Granit looked good without ever being put under too much pressure … 7
Ramsey – Rambo’s efforts weren’t quite up to his recent standards and he seemed to run out of gas more than most until that last five minutes … 6
Ozil – Tried everything he could to unlock the Madrid version of Fort Knox … 7
Welbeck – Came out of the blocks like a greyhound and looked likely to provide us a goal. I’m not keen on his trying to win free kicks by exaggerating falls – stop it Danny … 6
Lacazette – A marvellous header for the goal, some brilliant turns and movement plus several other good efforts – all repelled by Oblak unfortunately … 8
There were none and when you looked at the bench you could see why.
On to next Thursday, the tie is far from over and we have to be confident we can cancel out that calamitous away goal. When our away goal comes will be crucial – score first and it’s game on.
chas. Another quality read.
How many gooners really expected anything different pre-match? A tiny minority, yet post game we have the usual moaning.
The sending off meant that AM played even deeper than normal and proved what a fine defence they have. They play this way in La Liga using pacy attackers for the counter and inevitably we got sucker-punched.
The save by Oblak from Ramsey’s header was world class. Ramsey thought he had scored.
Great stuff Chas and the atmosphere must have been fabulous
Regarding Erik’s comment about pre-match expectation.
I reckon we all appreciate they are the better side, but not by such a significant margin as to afford us no chance, but once faced with the ten men, the backing of an awesome crowd and the players really giving a shit, I’d imagine everyone to be disappointed with a draw.
Anyway, of course we can fluke a goal or two in Madrid
Well written and fair report of what I saw Chas.
As I said last night AM were there for the taking and that is what is frustrating I guess. I didn’t expect much before the game, couldn’t fault players commitment to the cause, just a shame we couldn’t hold on to what would have been a much needed lead.
That early commitment caused the two yellow cards as we were hungry to win the ball first, we need to do the same next week.
I don’t think Simeone will want to play for 0-0 as that is where you could bring problems on yourself, first goal will be vital to the shape of the match.
thanks chas, good report. Do i detect a shade of annoyance? Not like you, but who wouldn’t throw a remote control at the telly after the Griezmann goal? A saint perhaps.
Infuriating, disappointing for the fans but even more so for the team and the manager. We tried, gave our best and if only we had a decent striker we would have won the game by 2-3 goals.
Welbeck and even Lacazette are not clinical enough (euphemisms for rubbish and shit), if only Aube was allowed to play it could have been a different story. Once again – which moron had decided to buy a cup-tied striker when our only chance of saving the season was in Europe??!! No, no, I’d better go away before i hit the roof
eff off Dalai Lama, which team do you support? I bet it ain’t Arsenal
Quality post Chas
A very fair report Chas. Their goal was simply bloody annoying but we should all be accustomed to it by now.
We need a miracle in Madrid to reach the final – I’m not very optimistic,
Brilliant post, Chas. 🙂
Ospina’s clearance could have gone anywhere, but it fell for baldy. Bloody typical.
thank you Chas
Klopp agrees with you – oxbow-chamberpot was a lemon before the German turned him into R Whites.
Or I think that’s what he’s saying. 😆
Thanks for the kind comments, all.
What a shame not to win the game last night! I think that if we had more lethal wingers and Giroud, we would have won last night. We had chances to kill the game. Now we are out, knowing that Atletico has not conceded in 11 games at home
RC78 well done for being the one to raise the ghost of Giroud, I must admit when I looked at their two banks of 4 and some of the unusually good crosses, I was thinking we could do with a big man here.
The fact that the goal came from a header seems to make that comment a little churlish, but it came after we managed to dispossess Griezman and they were off balance and Jack picked out a perfect cross.
Disappointing how many bloggers seem to think we are doomed. No doubt we are up against it, but it’s doable, and as I said earlier I don’t think AM can rely on a defensive strategy to win the tie, they know we can score against them, that’s our first job. We can’t worry about conceding out there as we need to score to progress.
“Disappointing how many bloggers seem to think we are doomed” – this made me laugh 🙂
No, GiE, it is not doable. We scored 1 against 10 men at home, what makes you think we can score against 11 away?? Plus, they will have Costa back from injury, he loves scoring against us.
I am disappointed in you, I had you as a wise, level headed lad. Somewhere, somehow you went bonkers 🙂
Allegri and Enrique are favourites at 4/1, which means there is no manager willing to replace Arsene
Cheers Chas, excellent write up.
I was probably one of those few that was optimistic pre-game. I was as disappointed as the next person at the 1-1, but although it makes things harder for us I remain optimistic.
Weirdly I don’t think we would have known how to approach the 2nd leg if we had come away 3-1 or even 3-0. If Newcastle can come back from 4-0 down for a draw and Wigan can win 3-2 when we were 2-0 up with 10 to go then I am sure Athletico can. We also have things the other way round being whatever it was down to Reading and 2-0 down to Hull in the FAC final.
If anything we should be able to formulate a better strategy at 1-1 because nothing is certain for Athletico either. Do they play their normal game or do they have to push a bit more?
Remember 0-0 and we are through. Our game plan should be to keep it very solid with little space behind but retain a counter-attacking threat. 3-5-2 at the back would be better with 2 wing backs for the away leg. Keep it 0-0 as long as possible and frustrate them but commit players to a quick counter-attack. Having 2 strikers helps here.
I still think we can do it but we will need to do something very anathema to Arsene; out think them and thwart their game plan as oppose to just chuck everyone out there and hope we out play them. They might not see it coming.
Sorry GIE, just saw your comment. I am with you. A bit of the old school British spirit required me thinks.
GB how do we go through with 0-0 scoreline when they have the away goal?
don’t even bother GN5, he is on drugs
Get a grip guys, it is not going to happen!! We were given a helping hand last night and even then we couldn’t do it. I am not blaming anyone, simply stating that AM are too good for us.
Anyway, what do I care, keep on hoping if that’s your drug of choice.
We just need our luck to change along with the wind direction……
……and Uefa to change the rules and make home goals count double. ☺
Chas are you saying we need more vocal fans to blow the wind?
Maybe it’s time to eliminate the away goal advantage. If my memory serves me correctly it was put in to make the game more attractive by creating more offensive football. If that was the reason then it has failed miserably.
[source: http://www.express.co.uk @ 13:05, Fri, Apr 27, 2018]
PSG boss Unai Emery announces departure
 … He informed his players of his decision this morning and announced the news at a press conference.
“I have told the players, [sporting director] Antero [Henrique] and the president [Nasser Al-Khelaifi] that it is finished,” Emery said.
Ah ha, so that’s it then
Arsene to PSG
Fat Sam to AFC
GB makes an interesting point.
How many times do you see sides struggle in the 2nd leg because they are not quite sure wether to attack or defend? If we had hung on to a 1-0 lead then we would be the side caught in 2 minds as to wether to go for the away goal or hang on to what we have, however, now that it’s 1-1, we know that we have to score and that makes our game plan far easier: score a goal!
Atletico have only conceded 4 league goals at home this season (an additional 3 in Europe), but they’ve only scored 54 goals in arguably a far easier league than ours (we have 66). If we can score a goal or 2 then there’s a good chance we can keep them to 1 or 2 and give ourselves a chance.
I also thought thy looked very susceptible at corners yday and we had some close moments from set pieces. Maybe that’s an area we can exploit over there.
I’m liking the term ‘sporting director’ – makes me think of the old corinthian spirit.
I’m also loving the optimism which has turned 1-1 into a better result for us psychologically than 1-0 would have been. 🙂
Micky @ 5:15. 🙂
One thing I do think happened last night is we tired having tried to force the game for 70 odd minutes, high pressing etc, and whilst AM only had 10 they didn’t like being harried in their own third.
The reason they still had some surprising energy left was simply because having gone to 10mem early they reduced themselves to a shape whereby they wouldn’t expend a lot of energy. (Especially in the second half). So unlike when you have been playing game for 70mins and then go down to 10 they were not already tired.
Eddie nothing is certain in football, we only need one to make the game interesting. If they score 1 it changes nothing. We just go all out attack and try and outscore them.
At least we will go out swinging.
Sam Allardyce 80/1. Could be a blinding bet
I think Arsenal caught the swapping bug in January and is now following into the summer.
Sanchez for Mikhi
Giroud for Batshauyi for Aubameyang
Wenger for Emery
As daft as it seems I feel more confident knowing an Arsene Wenger side has to go out and score goals than I do knowing an Arsene Wenger side has to go out and hold a 1-0 lead.
We can still qualify!
Love that comment Slim
Article in the Gruaniad about the folly of selling Giroud.
Another story that ignores the facts.
Arsenal were forced to sell Giroud if we were to sign PEA, as BVB wanted Bashoneout to replace PEA and Chavs needed a striker
I guess it is more entertaining to bash Wenger for a transfer that had nothing to do with him than tell the truth.
Journalism is dead, long live fake news
what did you have to spoil one of my most favourite songs?? grrrr….
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