Atletico Madrid Preview: Wenger Demands, Arsenal Expects

“Green outside, nice trees, good grass. Fantastic. No pollution. Until the press conference starts.” The only thing missing was “Jumpers for goalposts…next goal wins…hmmm.”

Atletico Madrid arrive at the Emirates for a match which will go some way to influencing how his European adventures are remembered. For 22 years, the sum total of three semi-finals isn’t particularly brilliant – better than nothing, but not brilliant – although as he rightly observed, it’s not as if we have a history of lifting European trophies, is it?

Arsenal are in that sense, the most English of clubs, and Wenger the perfect manager. He never got to grips with the different requirements of European competition, surprisingly so for someone with so much experience. Tonight sees him 180 minutes – maybe 270 – away from rectifying that to some extent and filling a gaping hole on his CV.

I hope he does it. Selfishly because Arsenal win a European trophy and the football romantic in me likes to see happy endings. As happy as it can be when one party has been quite obviously told to do one. “Not really my decision,” is as close as Arsène will ever come to admitting he was told he would be replaced this summer.

Not that Arsenal were having that. No, the club statement said, get a grip; he was only talking about the timing of his departure. I see. Arsène seemed to agree although undermining the club’s words when he issued a clarification last night, “After reaching agreement about my departure…”; this from a man who never broke a contract.

Gawd bless ‘im for still providing some amusement to the last. Schadenfreude or a middle finger to the executioner? Who knows? Arsène knows, of course.

I just hope he knows how to beat Atletico Madrid.

I Didn’t Get Where I am Today by Thinking

He declared they “don’t have any weaknesses”. They do but does he know their kryptonite and have a pocketful of the stuff?

I am looking for a clean sheet and win in that order tonight; a goalless draw is a good result, putting pressure on Atletico for the second leg. However, we must get our act together defensively in the second leg. If we go 2 – 0 down in Madrid, game over; they won’t be as accommodating as CSKA’s defence.

That is my concern for this tie. I think we can score, but at the back, we creak more than Shakin’ Stevens ol’ house. No amount of paint is going to disguise the fact that we have major problems keeping the ball out of our net. Ospina or Cech; Mustafi and Koscielny; these are not names which fill me with confidence when I see them in the Arsenal starting line-up and a good team is in town.

We’re lax enough against bad teams so why expect more against better ones? We’re consistent, you have to say that.

Which diverts attention to the attacking side of our game. The return of Mesut Özil to the XI is a welcome relief, providing the ammunition for Ramsey and Lacazette. Danny Welbeck will start as well; divining by UEFA press conferences works thanks to their rule that players must be in the starting line-up.

And he spoke well. His head is screwed on; Arsène’s announcement doesn’t change a thing about wanting to win as far as he is concerned. We’ve always schooled the players immaculately when it comes to their media dealings.

What would be really good is if we screwed Aubameyang’s feet onto Welbeck’s legs, making him prolific for a couple of nights. We can but dream.

I Didn’t Get Where I am Today by Waffling

Which Arsenal will turn up? The motivated one of Welbeck’s words or the funereal XI of the weekend? I think the former; we were against Chelsea in once again meaningless League Cup. Yes, we rode our luck at Stamford Bridge but over the course of the tie, we weren’t overwhelmed by a team which has done so in the past.

It’s that determination and attitude we need tonight. I think we will miss Mohamed Elneny, and we get the question of how much influence he’s had on Granit Xhaka’s form, answered. The Swiss international is probably in his best form since joining and needs to be disciplined in his defensive work, something he and Aaron Ramsey sometimes struggle with.

The line-up I’d expect at kick-off is:

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Xhaka; Özil, Wilshere, Welbeck; Lacazette

It’s good enough to win, it’s bad enough to be humbled in a Bayern-stylee. Which Arsenal will turn up?

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

96 thoughts on “Atletico Madrid Preview: Wenger Demands, Arsenal Expects

  1. Pete the Thirst says:

    Come on you Rip Roaring Reds!

  2. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Great rhetoric as always YW. I’m hoping the culmination of Arsene’s exit, player’s contract negotiations/shop window, new manager and having sod all else to play for, might mean we see the Arsenal that are capable of getting a goaless draw at Stamford Bridge. As you correctly stated, a goaless draw tonight would put pressure on Atletico in the second leg. We need to be not only at our very best, but nigh on invincible to get to this final. Come on you Gunner’s let’s be ‘aving you!

  3. Michael says:

    Morning All

    Let’s hope whatever rumours the players have heard about who is going to be the new manager, will give them an added impetus to shine tonight. I know but…

  4. Ras says:

    Good afternoon YW I shall be watching from behind the Green Door.

    Am I confident pour c soir? No pas de tout. It would be good wonderful if The Team could muster a masterful performance c soir.

    On verra- We will see


  5. C says:

    Good stuff on a massive match day!

    I think the other thing is that Lacazette has refound his form after his injury ans that is great news! Welbeck’s work rate and willingness to run is good as well to match up with Lacazette and Ozil.

    I’ll say this, Jack can’t be a passenger tonight and if his passing is shit tonight, he still has to do the defensive work along with Ramsey and Xhaka in midfield.

  6. Noon Gunner says:

    Thanks, Yogi. I agree with your likely line-up and, after pausing to imagine how much more confident I’d feel if we could play Eleneny, Mikhi and Aubameyang…(right, got that out the system)…I’m left wondering who you’d put on the bench.

    If our Achilles heel in this game is the potential dirtying of our sheet, I’d choose AinsleyMN, Chambers and Holding to cover defensively (Sead convinces even less at the moment) – or is this a Mert game, I wonder? Then Iwobi, Nelson & Nketiah to plug holes up front. None of these names inspire exactly, but we are beggars, are we not?

  7. Bill says:

    Great preview Yogi

    I hope we can get a positive result today but unlike the previous rounds in this competition I am not very confident.

  8. Damon says:

    Think we’ll win be a clear few goals tonight. Stop the doom and gloom!!

  9. Dukey says:

    Let’s hope Ivan invites Diego into his office and does a bit of tapping up…

  10. Woolwich Freddie says:

    I imagine YW is correct that Jack will start (it’s that or Iwobi). If this performance is at the level of his last two, I suggest tearing up the proffered contract. But enough negativity for just now! Here’s hoping the preferred Arsenal plays tonight instead of their uncanny doppelgängers, recruited from pub sides around the globe.

  11. Bill says:

    I am certainly not an expert on philosophical thoughts of the rest of the worlds managers but Simeone seems to match my own philosophy. The centerpiece of the team is the defense and everything else is built on the foundation of that defense. That does not mean we park the bus but defense is the great equalizer and it’s the fastest way we can get back to the top 4 and rebuild our results. Our attack should move away from the obsession with technical skill and tippy tappy and focus more on counter attacking

  12. Dukey says:

    Oh yes I forgot you’re Brazilian! Well I have to say it goes against an Englishman’s logic as well as we too do not like the argies!

  13. Bill says:

    I think we would all love to play pep ball but I don’t think that is realistic at least at first. The first priority is to rebuild our results and rebuilding the defensive mentality is the best way to do it.

  14. Woolwich Freddie says:

    I don’t feel strongly about any of the candidates for manager as it is so hard to say who will be a good fit. However, I think there might be a case for a more pragmatic and defensive candidate, since that is what will shake the team up the most. Even if we persist with a more attacking style, I would place the highest importance on team pressing and organization.

  15. Pistolfish says:

    Im with you on this one Bill. Simon is my first choice too. Patrick Viera was one of the voices saying Wenger should decide how long he stays at Arsenal. He lost me with that one. His love of Wenger clearly outweighs his love for the club. And also I have no interest in another arrogant frenchman in charge. My mother is French, so I have no problem saying that.
    We need a hard arse to come in and kick the bejesus out of these pampered over paid princesses. Those that can hack it stay and those that cant can move on.
    No Arteta, no Viera, no upcoming project manager. This club needs a strong had to take the tiller and steer us out of Wengers mess.

  16. C says:


    Yup, is he a very good manager..absolutely! Do I think he would do well at Arsenal, I don’t.

    Give me Enrique, Nagelsmann, or one of them and I’m all good.

  17. Woolwich Freddie says:

    The Legend with the greatest shout for inclusion is surely not Viera, or Arteta but Keown. He at least has proven he can get the defense playing as a formidable unit. If not as manager, how about foisting him as defensive coach on any Wenger-esque candidates?

  18. C says:

    On to the match tonight. I’m torn between Jack and Iwobi…I know people think I’m crazy but Iwobi will at the very least give us that work rate and will help defensively which Jack has never been known for.

  19. C says:

    Why wouldn’t you have Enrique, he literally changed Barca from Pep’s Barca to a more direct side and when he came he forced Messi and them to play differently. I mean if you can tell Messi and Suarez to play a different way to make them more dynamic while also making them more solid defensively, surely he can do it at Arsenal who don’t have nearly the politics behind them that Barca have.

  20. Bill says:


    Regarding Iwobe vs Wilshere, I assume the front 3 is Ozil, Lacazette and Welbeck. The only place Iwobe can play is midfield and that may be his best position over the long term, he has hardly played midfield in the last couple of seasons and today is probably not a good day for experimentation.

  21. Bill says:

    Why wouldn’t you have Enrique, he literally changed Barca from Pep’s Barca to a more direct side and when he came he forced Messi and them to play differently.I mean if you can tell Messi and Suarez to play a different way to make them more dynamic while also making them more solid defensively, surely he can do it at Arsenal who don’t have nearly the politics behind them that Barca have.

    You make some excellent points in that comment. Xavi was no longer the same player and Iniesta was slowing so Enrique made a good decision to rebuild his attack around his biggest asset which was Messi, Neymar and Suarez. Your point about moving Messi to wide forward is also an excellent point. Not many managers would have had the cojones to ask the worlds best player to change positions.

  22. Bill says:

    I still think Simeone would be the best option. The new manager has a lot more work then Enrique had. Whomever comes in has to start by rebuilding the defense but even more fundamental he has to exorcise the culture of complacency that has developed. We are not a title contending team but we are certainly not as bad as our away record in the league suggests and that terrible away record is just one symptom of the culture that has permeated this squad. There are still a bunch of players from the last World Cup hangover season and the culture which allowed that to happen must be expelled and I agree with Pistol Fish and it feels like Simeone’s no nonsense pragmatism would give us the best chance to get rid of that self defeating culture.

  23. Bill says:

    I think we need to get us far away from the Wengerian idealism and warm and fuzzy culture as fast as we can.

  24. Pistolfish says:

    I don’t know enough about Enrique to get exited about him.
    He managed Barca, I’m weary of any one that managed Barca. With players st his disposal any less that total success is considered a failure.
    I’d certainly take him over any of our former players.

  25. C says:


    Its the only place Jack can play as well but Iwobi can also play on the wing and will give us thr defensive work rate that Jack doesn’t always want to do.

  26. C says:


    Exactly plus Enrique went with more defensive solidarity it midfield too bringing in Raktic.

  27. C says:


    I think thats part of it too, he has managed at Barca and wasn’t just status quo,he changed Barca and came after Pep and was successful at it.

  28. C says:


    Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Welbeck; Lacazette

  29. C says:

    Athletico official

    Oblak; Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Godin, Lucas; Correa, Thomas, Saul, Koke; Gameiro, Griezmann

  30. Phil says:

    Is there a way where we can start without LJW and Iwobi?
    Lost faith in Jack over the past couple of months,
    And never really had too much in Iwobi either.
    They both give the ball away,
    That being said, agree with C- Iwobi has better work rate defensively.

  31. Phil says:

    The last time I saw a team from Madrid play us at home. It was Real , and the best nil all draw I have seen.
    Agree with YW, I wouldn’t be unhappy with that tonight. Nipping one would be better.

  32. C says:


    I’ll tell you, I think like Yogi said, Elneny has been good and I do wonder if Jack would have started if Elneny was fit? Part of me thinks that he wouldn’t because he would allow for Ramsey to push forward more because he would have Elneny and Xhaka behind him but now with Jack, it leave Xhaka to man the middle by himself.

  33. G4E says:

    Very weak looking Bench…..Let’s hope the ones on the field are enough.

  34. Colts says:

    Wow, sure I read all the officials are French?

  35. G4E says:

    This one is actually a Yellow…..the first one may not be a Yellow.

  36. Noon Gunner says:

    I can see us slacking off now and Atletico upping their game now if we’re not focused.

    And is that the way we get introduced to our next manager??

  37. G4E says:

    We just need to keep our cool now….

  38. G4E says:

    Come on…..We need to take those chances

  39. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Ospina’s best 5mins in an Arsenal shirt?

  40. Noon Gunner says:

    We’ve lost our way to goal.

  41. G4E says:

    We did not take our chances and now they settled and will waste time the whole game.

  42. Noon Gunner says:

    Eye of the predictable needle stuff!!! When did we ever score from this kind of approach?

  43. G4E says:

    We are probably the only team in the world that doesn’t take advantage of playing against 10 men.

  44. Noon Gunner says:

    We need a tactical rethink at half time

    …ah…but I was forgetting!

  45. C says:

    If there was ever a team even with injuries that you wouldn’t necessarily want to see with 10 men it would be Athletico. With that said, we started brightly but have faded but we will get chances.

  46. Bill says:

    It’s always difficult to score when you allow the defense to set up and try to pass the ball thru or around them.

    Hopefully we can find a way to break thru in the second half but they are certainly a very good defensive team. I think Simeone would be the perfect manager to change the culture that arsene has allowed to permeate the club.

  47. Noon Gunner says:

    OK, so clearly no half-time tactical re-think. What was I thinking??

  48. G4E says:

    The usual slowness in the build up, almost at a walking pace.

    If they are playing with 10 it feels like we are playing with 8…

  49. C says:


    He just keeps scoring but probably still hasnt convinced people when fit he will score!!!

  50. consolsbob says:

    John Radford would have been proud of that one. Old skool.

  51. Noon Gunner says:

    We have our work cut out here. The Atleti bus is well padlocked.

  52. Bill says:

    The season has been a mixed bag for Lacazette but he has been excellent since he came back from injury.

  53. C says:


  54. G4E says:

    We managed to fuck it up……I don’t really care, cause Arsene Wenger is planning on winning in Madrid to show the fans how good he really is.

  55. Colts says:

    Hilarious. Kos out muscled by lil ole griezmann and mustafti slips over in the 6 after ospina is megged. Against ten men, one ball over the top.

    Wengerball til the very end…

  56. C says:


    Now buying Oblak is something we can agree on but his release clause is like 100m but he does have a contract situation that might be able to be exploited…..

  57. Noon Gunner says:

    That was roughly what we deserved. We’re an ordinary Wenger side. For just a little longer.

  58. C says:

    1-0 and we would have been in perfect position, Kos cocks it up, literally, as a defender he could have done ANYTHING ELSE in the world and the danger would have been put out but after ALL these fucking years, Kos still has a mistake in him when we need him to be the class defender he can be.

    Remember the PL match last season rught before the FA Final when he got a absolutely pointless red….yup silly mistake

  59. Wavey says:

    Not watched a single minute tonight gents, but it sounds like a bucket of arse. 80 minutes against 10 men and we manage to contrive a 1-1 draw. The away goal conceded and we now have to go to one of the meanest defences in Europe over several years. It sounded to me like Wenger’s fingerprints were all over their goal. Yet again we conceded a goal when we should in control and closing the game out. Poor from Arsenal and typical of Wenger’s era.

  60. Bill says:

    We are in big trouble. 80 minutes against 10 men and we could only score 1 and then to concede the away goal is utterly unforgivable.

  61. Wavey says:


    I’ve been a Lacazette advocate from the beginning. Love a player who caresses the ball into the goal.

  62. Dukey says:

    Atletico have conceded just 4 goals at home all season!! No wonder they are celebrating.

  63. Foetry says:

    Missed chances, last minute suicide defending.. Kos creates the danger while Mustafi was again half asleep gutted!..This lot better get their tail up next week ..anyone knows if Mikhi is back for the return leg(?)

  64. MikeSA says:

    74% possession
    763 passes to 246
    A Wenger wet dream
    1-1 a fan and team’s nightmare
    Same mistakes, season after season
    With all the wailing and gnashing of teeth plus revised history, there, in a nutshell is why Wenger should have fucked off or been told to fuck off years ago

  65. C says:


    Agree and when he is fit he clearly is a brilliant player and he scored a header with a really really good leap today.

  66. nicky says:

    @Mike SA,
    You are never satisfied. You got your wish. Arsene Wenger will leave at the end of the season.
    Yet you can’t resist further bile. I await your moronic response if the new man fails to deliver as quickly as you demand.

  67. Bill says:


    There is room for all sorts of fans and suggesting that your type is better then another is self righteous. Arsene should have left several years ago. We are all fortunate there are fans who were willing to complain. If the entire fan base was more like you then we might be looking at several more years of Arsene.

  68. Bill says:


    Lacazette has been brilliant since he returned from injury. If he continues his current form next season then you can gloat. However we can’t just ignore the 3 months where he disappeared when we were struggling and falling into 6th place.

  69. Delano says:


    Hogshit just. Thank God Wenger is leaving. Atleast we get a pragmatic tactical coach come May. You play 10 men for 80 minutes and manage a fuckin draw. I hope arsenal scores 2 goals in Madrid which will be difficult

  70. Phil says:

    Comical defending – again!
    Yes we should have scored 3, but the one thing we didn’t want was to give them an away goal.
    A belated Merry Christmas Madrid.

  71. FREDDO says:

    Despite a tremendous header from Laca – boy, did he time his leap well, surely, when they went down to ten it was time to shift him to the wings and put Welbeck in the middle for the crosses.

  72. .C says:

    I think its absolutely fucking hilarious how people are blaming Mustafi for the goal, FFS that was pure and simple Kos’s fault and if Mustafi is being blamed for slipping trying to get back then that’s peoe on a witch hunt the same way they do with Ozil

  73. G4E says:

    One thing is clear today……Wenger and his Teams are incapable of change, not even for 90 minutes.

    That was the pay back for the 2006 CL Final, a player sent off in the first 18 minutes and even better, their manager sent to the stands.

    But guess what………No change in Wenger tactics, we just have to keep playing the Wenger way in front of 10 men that I didn’t know any of their names except for Griezmann.

    See the difference between what they did, how they reacted to the situation quickly and became even better after the send offs. We on the other-hand looked shocked by the sending offs and didn’t assert ourselves on the game and the final result.

    Griezmann was winning fouls on his 18 yard line, Koscielny and Mustafi were doing the Wenger Ballet dance rehearsals on theirs.


    I really and honestly don’t care……It’s actually better for us not winning the Europa League, this way there is no chance of Wenger staying “One More Year”.

    I don’t even trust the Board of going back and giving him the last year if he wins it.

    If we want Champions League, we have to qualify for it the right way and through the league positions.


    I hope Wenger doesn’t blame anyone but himself for the way this ended. There is still the 2nd leg to play…..but let’s face it, imagine if the battering-ram Costa and or the annoying Torres were playing the next game and with their crowds .

    Kosielny and Mustafi will be shitting their pants in no time.

    We shall see, but that was not a good result today……We were not clinical and they stifled us with ease.


    The $50 million shopping money for the new manager sounds about right because I think he will have to get rid of some players. Certainly the Defense and DM are the biggest holes in this team and the matter of having Real Cajones, not the dysfunctional Ones we have now.

    Just random thoughts.

  74. MikeSA says:


    Not all fans are like you, namely an obsequious, sniveling lick spittle with no rational thought or capacity for intelligent observation.

    Yet despite your stunted intellectual capacity, you still see fit to try and ctirisize those who don’t conform to your pathetic and unquestioning grovelling.

    A while back you stated you had no intention of conversing with me, but like the object of your misplaced crush (Wenger), you can’t resist the urge to tell everyone to do it your way.

    That’s why I have no compunction in telling you to fuck off and go and do one you arsehole.

  75. MikeSA says:

    And Nicky

    If the new manager settles into several seasons of making the same idiotic mistakes, season after season then yes, I will have something to say.

    No doubt you’ll still be there sucking his cock you fucking doos.

  76. Pete says:

    I don’t know what our approach will be for the next leg , but we turnout in our blue kit and it’s all over!

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