Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Atletico Madrid in the semi-final of the Europa League. What went wrong for the Gunners?
With all eyes on them and their soon-to-leave manager Arsene Wenger, Arsenal opened up the doors to the Emirates, welcoming Atletico Madrid for the first leg of the UEFA Europa League semi-final.
Winning Europe’s second biggest club competition to return to the UEFA Champions League next season would undoubtedly be the best possible way to bid farewell to their legendary manager. However, with Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid standing in their way to the final, and an inevitable second leg scheduled to be played at the Wanda Metropolitano, Arsenal needed nothing short of a win last night.
Two yellow cards within the first ten minutes saw the visitors reduced to 10, as Šime Vrsaljko was given his marching orders in the 9th minute. Despite dominating possession of the ball throughout, it took 60 whole minutes before Arsenal took the lead through Alexandre Lacazette.
Unfortunately for the Gunners, though, not only did they fail to pile on the goals but they also gave way and allowed Antoine Griezmann to rescue the Rojiblancos with an all-important away goal in the 81st minute of the game.
As the game ended 1-1 – a result Arsenal fans will not be too pleased with, here is a look at 3 things that went wrong for Arsene Wenger’s men:
#3 Poor conversion rate
Desperately seeking the best possible result, Arsenal came out with their fiery best as they dominated play while also creating a plethora of chances. Disappointingly, their finishing rendered them all futile.
By the end of the 90 minutes, the Gunners had racked up an astonishing total of 28 shots with only a solitary goal to show for it. Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper Jan Oblak may have put in an excellent performance, making 7 saves altogether, and credit to him for it, but that still doesn’t explain how and why the other 21 shots produced just one goal.
Bound by the inability to play the cup-tied lightning bolt who goes by the name Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Wenger decided to hand Lacazette the opportunity to impress from the striker’s position.
Alas, the Frenchman could only validate his negligence, because as crucial as his opener was, he took a total of 8 shots, of which only 2 were on target – and those numbers simply don’t bode well for someone trying to make their way into a side aspiring to challenge for silverware in a country like England.
Aaron Ramsey too mustered 8 shots, 5 of which were saved, while Granit Xhaka managed 4 attempts. Worryingly for Wenger, the artillery is all there but it’s failing to make a difference.