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  • By Charlie Stong

Advantage Atletico

Arsenal 1 Atletico Madrid 1

Arsenal missed the chance to take a significant advantage into the second leg of the Europa League semi-final last night after only managing a 1-1 draw with Atletico at the Emirates.

The atmosphere at the ground was the best of the whole season by a mile and the Emirates had a real European feel about it.

Ten minutes in Atletico were down to 10 men after defender Sime Vrsaljko was correctly sent off for his second booking of the game.

Arsenal could have not asked for more - 80 minutes to play at home against 10 men in a European semi-final.

The Gunners huffed and puffed, and eventually through Alexandre Lacazette - again - eventually scored, but they could not blow the Atletico house down.

The Spaniards’ resolute defence stood firm, and as the Arsenal backline pushed forward, Antoine Griezmann, one of the continent’s finest forward players, was allowed to run free of Laurent Koscielny and equalise.

Just one goal but it may mean the world of difference in deciding which of these two sides reaches next month’s final in Lyon.

Arsenal attacked relentlessly throughout the game and they cannot be faulted for their efforts last night. They were really trying to ensure Arsene Wenger goes out in the best possible way.

But ultimately their age-old weaknesses returned to haunt them once again. The Gunners spurned numerous chances - it should have been at least 2-0 at half time and three or four by the time Griezmann equalised.

And at the other end, despite a decent performance for 80-odd minutes, the defence just couldn’t keep that all important clean sheet.

Some very kind words have been written about Arsene Wenger in the past few days - and quite rightly too, the man will forever be an Arsenal legend. But what we saw last night was confirmation that the time is right for a new regime.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Arsenal could still qualify for the final in Wenger’s home country when the teams meet in Madrid next week.

It will be a completely different game on Thursday 11v11 and we’ll see Atletico attack us with possibly the same consistency that we attacked them last night, which will mean that maybe we can find some gaps to exploit at the back.

But it’s hard not to think that a great chance was missed to take a firm grip on this tie last night.

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