by Bulldog Drummond
And so, as we get ready to go out to the stadium for the last time on a Thursday this season, we hear the news that Atlético Madrid are ready to play Diego Costa, just to annoy us. He has played 12 league games and scored three this season, and played three European games and scored one.
Yet Simeone also said in the past few days there was “no chance” that Costa could feature in the first leg because of the hamstring injury. We shall see.
We remember him of course from his activities at Chelsea. If you are not completely clear, here is Sky Sports actually for once exposing what Mike Dean gets up to in a match.
Simeone was asked whether Costa had travelled to give Atlético a boost, because he was ready to play, or just in order to intimidate Arsenal. He replied, “In England and Spain, many teams have suffered at the hands of Diego. It is not just Arsenal.”
Dirty, conniving, cheating, evil, disgraceful are just some of the words that are far too gentle, soft and misleading to be placed at the door of Costa. And do play the video above if you have time. It is rather jolly.
Meanwhile in terms of football we have Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Petr Cech available for tonight’s game. For Madrid their full-back Juanfran will miss the match however as he is injured. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is not available, but might be ready for the return match in a week’s time. Mohamed Elneny however will be out for the season but Mr Wenger has said, “I think he will be available for Egypt at the World Cup, but not any more for Arsenal.”
But although many of the papers are talking up Atletico’s chances, as we have seen in previous articles they are not that good away from home at the moment.
This is the first meeting between the two clubs, and Atletico are the 10th Spanish side we have faced in Europe and the 125th different side that Mr Wenger has faced – in fact the last of the 125.
This is also our eighth European semi-final and we have gone on to the final in six of the seven before this. The only time we didn’t was in 2008/9 when playing Man U in the Champions League.
Also this season we have scored more goals in a single European competition than ever before. Here are the seasons in goal scoring order.
|2017–18||UEFA Europa League||12||8||2||2||29||10||+19|
|2009–10||UEFA Champions League||12||7||2||3||26||14||+12||QF|
|2007–08||UEFA Champions League||12||7||3||2||24||9||+15||QF|
|1969–70||Inter-Cities Fairs Cup||12||7||2||3||23||6||+17||W|
|2008–09||UEFA Champions League||14||7||3||4||23||11||+12||SF|
|2010–11||UEFA Champions League||8||5||0||3||21||11||+10||R16|
|2016–17||UEFA Champions League||8||4||2||2||20||16||+4||R16|
Naturally with 29 goals this season we are also the top of the Europa League for goals. Technically in 1999/2000 we did score 30 by playing in both the Champions League and the Uefa Cup, but I am sure that we will pass even that combined total tonight. Atletico Madrid have scored 15 goals in their six Europa League games this season.
Here is our European record by competition
|Champions League/European Cup||201||101||43||57||332||217||+115||50.25|
|Cup Winners’ Cup||27||15||10||2||48||20||+28||55.56|
|Europa League/UEFA Cup||37||20||6||11||72||40||+32||54.05|
|Inter-Cities Fairs Cup||24||12||5||7||46||19||+27||50.00|
Of course Mesut Ozil has played against Atletico before, as when he played for Real Madrid and scored four goals and had one assist in that part of his career. We’ll look for him to do that again tonight.
So to move on to the teams. The TalkSprout website sets an interesting conundrum for us today by providing this team…
Koscielny, Ramsey, Lacazette, Wilshere, Ozil, Monreal, Mustafi, Welbeck, Bellerin, Xhaka, Cech.
I suppose they might be suggesting Koscielny is in goal with Cech as centre forward or Cech in goal with Koscielny as centre forward – with the Sprout you can never really be sure. Indeed I have heard some say that the station is a hoax, although of course not when Tony did his Arsenal History show with them. That was completely serious and accurate.
However a more likely line up would see
Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal;
Xhaka, Wilshere, Ramsey;
Beached with the Islington sandcastles we would have seven out of: Cech, Mertesacker, Holding, Chambers, Kolasinac, Maitland-Miles, Iwobi, Nelson, Eddie.
OK, it is getting on for time to get ready, and then toddle off to London, perchance for a nibble and a drink in the Swimmer where I must say we are always given the most friendly of welcomes. Let’s hope Arsenal don’t do the same for the visitors.
- “No pollution. Until the press conference starts.” A. Wenger.
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- How Man City’s problems began to arise…. nine years ago
- The media pile into Manchester City, but where have they been all this time?
- Manchester City accused of over 100 breaches of Premier League financial rules
- Every club now knows how to beat Arsenal (according to reports)