Can Arsenal make the final?


Arsenal player ratings vs Southampton

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 08: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates with team mates after scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Southampton at Emirates Stadium on April 8, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

After a thrilling quarter-final round, the semis are set, and it looks to be just as exciting as the previous round.

Among all the action of the quarterfinals, we could be in for further treats in the semifinals. That said, I have looked at both fixtures and gave my verdict on each. Arsenal take on Atletico Madrid, with Marseille taking on RB Salzburg.

Arsenal vs Atletico Madrid

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MADRID, SPAIN – APRIL 08: Antoine Griezmann (L) of Atletico de Madrid celebrates scoring their opening goal with teammates Thomas Teye Partey (2ndL), Diego Costa (2ndR) and Lucas Hernandez (R) during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 8, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

There was one draw that the Gunners didn’t want, and in typical Arsenal fashion, they managed to get it.

I may have put a reverse “Ringer Curse” on Arsenal, as a few weeks ago I wrote about how they desperately needed a re-build this summer if they wanted any chance to compete for titles in the near future.

After their 2-1 loss to Brighton, though, Arsenal won 6 in a row before drawing against CSKA on Thursday. Given their recent form, Arsenal will be optimistic about their prospects coming into this tie.

We already know that Atleti is going to make life difficult for Arsenal’s attackers – Danny Welbeck will regress back to the mean, and his meme-inspiring form will fizzle out, meaning Alexandre Lacazette will have to be at his best to make the difference.

But the X-factor in this tie is going to be Arsenal’s defense against Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa. Arsenal has yet to face a strike force anywhere close to Griezmann and Costa in the Europa League so far, so looking shaky against CSKA in the second leg doesn’t exactly help their case. This is a test that the Gunners’ back line has to be up for if they have any shot of advancing to the final.

The back four will benefit from having Mohamed Elneny in front of them, who’s starting to make a name for himself in this competition. He was named the  Europa League player of the week for his impressive performance against CSKA on Thursday, and he’ll be looking to continue his great form into the semi-finals.

Unfortunately for Arsenal, however, I just can’t see them advancing. At the end of the day, Atleti’s quality will be too much for the Gunners, and their dream of returning to the Champions League will be brought to a swift end.

Prediction: Atletico Madrid 4-2 Arsenal

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