Arsene Wenger’s last European home game was headed to victory, only for Antoine Griezmann to score crucial equaliser, changing the entire perspective of the tie.
Arsene Wenger’s game plan was going entirely to plan as Arsenal attacked right from the start. An early red card to Sime Vrsaljko could have possibly influenced the tie in Arsenal’s favour as the Gunners took control of possession and showed immense control over the ball.
After a goalless first half, Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring for Arsenal midway through the second period. Arsenal looked threatening throughout the second half and could have scored a few more goals, but the script was written differently. Antoine Griezmann, scored a crucial equaliser eight minutes from time to change the mood at the Emirates.
It ends level at the Emirates…
Reaching the final is going to be tough – but we CAN do it! Let’s stick together and do the job in Madrid 👊 pic.twitter.com/U6SRdb7Ozu
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018
Atletico Madrid, thus, have a significant advantage in the tie going into the second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano next week. In the end, it wasn’t the ending Arsene Wenger or the fans were hoping for their legendary manager as he managed his last ever European game at home.
David Ospina – 6.5
Hardly involved apart from some early attempts from Atletico in the first half as Arsenal completely dominated the match. Made some decent saves when called upon, but could hardly do anything about Grieizmann’s late equaliser.
Hector Bellerin – 7.5
A solid attacking outlet from the right-hand side, as he, time and again went forward and tried numerous crosses into the Arsenal box. Showed good control of the ball and was available to go back to defend some potential Atletico counter attacks.
Laurent Koscielny – 6.5
A largely solid performance from Arsenal’s captain, but should be held responsible for Atletico’s late equaliser as he switched off following Griezmann’s brilliant run into the box, failing to clear the ball to safety.
Shkodran Mustafi – 7
If recent performances are to be compared, this was by far one of his best this season. The German stood firm in defence alongside Koscielny, and the duo held a high line as Atletico rarely threatened, and when they did, were swiftly put out of the equation. An unfortunate slip though, meant he couldn’t stop Griezmann from scoring the equaliser
Nacho Monreal – 7.5
Arsenal’s best left-sided player on the night. Monreal was far more involved in attack than he was in defence and provided a great outlet on the left flank. Combined well with Welbeck and could have scored in the first half too, had he taken his chance well.
Granit Xhaka – 8
His influence in the team is on the rise. Xhaka controlled the midfield against Atletico and helped drive the ball forward into the attack as much as possible. Additionally, his diagonal balls were a delight and helped Arsenal switch play from side to side.
Aaron Ramsey – 8
He has seen his stock rise in recent months, largely due to his willingness to get into attacking or goalscoring position more often than even the forward-most players, and the same was prevalent on Thursday. Ramsey always got into threatening positions against Atletico and caused problems for the Spanish side time and again.
Jack Wilshere – 7
Wilshere offered a timely reminder of what he could be capable of. He was robust against Atletico and did not have moments where he lost the ball to the opposition. His brilliant link-up play with Ozil in the second half led to Arsenal’s goal, and he got his name on the assist chart.
Mesut Ozil – 8
Ozil was needed to be the catalyst for any potential Arsenal attack, and he did an excellent job at that. Always available on the ball and ready to make passes that led to dangerous attacking moments for Arsenal.
Danny Welbeck – 8
Previously there used to be constant fear with Welbeck losing the ball in tight situations, but in stark contrast, he performed so much better against Atletico that Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s absence wasn’t felt at all. Always a threat from the left side and combined well with Monreal. Had a few pops at goal, even though he failed to score.
Alexandre Lacazette – 8
Lacazette’s hold-up abilities and his mobility are so underrated, but against Atletico, he put all those qualities to good use. He helped Welbeck get into right positions and was a good option for link-ups. Eventually, he scored Arsenal’s only goal with a header and was an excellent aerial threat against Atletico.