A crestfallen Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid was the ‘worst possible result’ after his side squandered enough chances to put themselves within touching distance of the Europa League final before Antoine Griezmann grabbed a late equaliser for the visitors.
Diego Simeone’s side was on the back foot for almost the entire game after defender Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for two yellow cards inside the first ten minutes. Despite Alexandre Lacazette breaking the deadlock just after the hour mark the visitors, courtesy of some fine keeping by Jan Oblak, weathered the storm and hit back on the break with just eight minutes remaining.
Arsenal travel to the Wanda Metropolitano in a week’s time knowing they must score against one of Spain’s grisliest defences. Speaking after his final ever European game at the Emirates, Wenger couldn’t hide his disappointment.
“Looking at the performance we had and the way the game went it was the worst possible result,” he told BT Sport.
“We have to go there in a positive mood and qualify over there. We have to recover from a disappointment and prepare for the next one.
“It felt like an opportunity missed. We could already be qualified but it didn’t happen. Their goalkeeper made many saves and you could see that they have the quality up front to take advantage
“We knew if we did not score the second one it was important we did not concede.”
Arsenal will likely rotate heavily for Sunday’s match with Manchester United before they try and seal a memorable result in the Spanish capital. For all tonight’s frustration, Wenger insists that his players still have what it takes to make the final in Lyon even though the stats add up in Atletico’s favour.
“You don’t look at the statistics, you look at your performance and we know we can score anywhere,” he added.
“First recover, because the players have given a lot, and then see what we can do over there.
“We have to go there with absolute belief to do it.”