Are the stars aligning to crown Wenger a man of destiny? The answer might lie on how determined his players are to do it for him. From little noises coming out of the camp they appear geared up to give their sweat and all for their departing manager. The test begins tonight at the Emirates Stadium and it’s good to remember that something as tame as a 0-0 at home and a 1-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano is enough to see us to the final in Lyon where the outcome is as good as a toss of the coin. The cup is so within reach yet still so far away.
Atletico Madrid is a mean-mean team. They have conceded the fewest goals of all teams in the five major European leagues. They, however, come to the Emirate without their 1st choice full backs in Filipe Luis, the Brazilian international and the experienced Juanfran. Trust Simeone to be well stocked in this department as in Hernandez and the young and pacy Vrsaljko he has able replacements. Their central pairing of Godin and Savic and their keeper Jan Oblak make up the rest of the fortress. If you haven’t heard of Jan Oblak, rated the best keeper in the world, please click the link below:
Their center has battle tested midfielders of which the star is obviously the left footed Saul Niguez. A ball carrier, he slices through opposition lines like knife through butter linking up play with their two strikers in their preferred 4:4:2 formation. The more prolific Antoine Greizmann is expected to pair with the dangerous Diego Costa.
Atletico sit deep and transition quickly. Arsenal build slowly and play the high line. It’s going to be a game of contrast in styles but don’t rule out the possibility of a tactical surprise.
Atletico are on also the road to qualifying for the Champions League via La Liga (6pts cushion with 4 matches left). For us the Europa League is our only remaining route. Would Atletico want it a little bit less tonight? Don’t bet on that. Simeone hates to lose. He is forever desperate for yet another victory, yet another cup to hold aloft. Obviously there are more nerves to overcome on our side but Simeone’s men would be spread thinner battling for glory on two fronts.
We already have an idea of the players Wenger is likely to send out for this clash. The West Ham encounter was a reheasal for the Atletico match. Ozil is back from illness. The big decision remains who of Wilshere, Iwobi and Maitland-Niles replaces injured Elneny. Maitland-Niles was completely at home in that central area when he came on against West Ham and his pace might come in handy against the speed of the Atletico attack. Nevertheless, I expect Wenger to go for experience and give the nod to Wilshere provided he has regained match fitness. Wenger might also maintain his traditition and return Ospina as the cup goalkeeper. Mkhitaryan, is coming back from injury and today looks early for even a bench role. A big shame that Aubamayang is cup-tied.
Expected line up:
Bellerin Mustafi Koscielny Monreal
Ozil Wilshere Welbeck
SUBS: Cech. Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Nketiah.
This tough two-legged tie has one thing as clear as daylight; that Koscielny and Co on home turf could do with a 12th man.
By Pony Eye.
The Total Footballer
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