Arsenal familiarize themselves with disappointment in 2-1 loss to ATM
It must be really tough to be an Arsenal fan. The English club went into the match with an aim to score one goal and prevent Atletico Madrid from scoring. That’s all they needed, one goal unlike teams like AS Roma who needed about 5 goals to turn the tie. Wenger used the same team that played against Atletico Madrid last week which meant that Mkhitaryan could only afford a place on the bench. Diego Simeone shacked things up a bit as he trusted his most versatile player, Thomas Partey, in right back as opposed to his usual midfield role. The Ghanaian defensive midfielder has been one of the standout players in both ties against Arsenal. He was trusted to cover at right back in the last stages of the first leg clash and that performance was enough to convince Simeone to trust him in that position once more. Arsenal failed to score a goal in the first half thanks to his interceptions and blocks which prevented the gunners from whipping in dangerous crosses from the right. It was in the 45th minute that Partey’s teammate, Diego Costa scored the goal to give the advantage to Atletico Madrid. The second half was even better by the English side as they tried to instigate attacks but the Ghanaian player blocked most of those attempts by intercepting crucial passes by Ozil, Ramsey, Monreal, and Xhaka on the right. Even when Mkhitaryan was called upon the pitch to replace Wilshere, Arsenal never produced enough to worry his defense. The few opportunities created by Ozil went begging as there was no one in the right spot to parry it home. Godin took most of the shine as well for clearing these useless attempts.
This match was meant to be a memorable night for Wenger in his last away match in European competition as Arsenal boss. He was seen squatting near the touchline from the 85th minute but his team could not produce a result. Much credit to Partey and his manager Simeone who coached his team from the stands. He prepared the team for this fight and they succeeded in knocking out Arsenal out of the UEFA Europa tournament. Simeone is on to the final. Maybe if he is announced as the next Arsenal boss, he should bring the African player to Arsenal and solve the defensive problems they have been having since Patrick Vieira left in July 2005. These disappointing results from a team with a weak mentality is what the new coach will have to deal with. What a tough ask!