Arsenal trio available for Europa semi-final against Atletico

Mesut Ozil (left) and Jack Wilshere (right) trained on Wednesday

Arsenal have Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Petr Cech available for Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid.

Midfielders Ozil and Wilshere, and goalkeeper Cech missed Sunday’s win over West Ham with minor injuries.

Striker Diego Costa has been named in a 20-man Atletico squad for the trip.

Boss Diego Simeone said at the weekend the Spain forward had “no chance” of being fit for the game at Emirates Stadium because of a hamstring injury.

He has missed three games since limping out of the quarter-final second leg against Sporting Lisbon.

Costa has scored six goals in 18 games since his move from Chelsea.

Full-back Juanfran will miss Thursday’s game because of a hamstring injury.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is hopeful midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan could recover from a knee injury to feature in the second leg in Madrid next week.

However, Mohamed Elneny – who damaged ankle ligaments against West Ham – is likely to miss the rest of the season.

“He has a little chance to play at Huddersfield,” said Wenger, referring to Arsenal’s final Premier League game of the season on 13 May.

“I think he will be available for Egypt at the World Cup, but not any more for Arsenal.”

Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible for Arsenal, having played for Dortmund earlier in the competition.

Diego Costa has not played since the Europa League quarter-final against Sporting Lisbon

Not winning Europa League would be an anti-climax – Wenger

Having announced he will leave Arsenal at the end of the season, the Europa League is Wenger’s final chance to win a major trophy at the club.

The Frenchman admitted it would be an “anti-climax” were the Gunners not to do so.

“That’s why we want to give our absolute all to have a chance of going to the final,” he added.

On facing Atletico, Wenger said: “I would say one of their strengths is that they have no obvious weakness.

“They are a very efficient team and a team who can use every weak moment of their opponent.”

Winning the Europa League is Arsenal’s only remaining way to qualify for next season’s Champions League

‘I think this is the final’

European football writer Raphael Honigstein on the BBC Radio 5 live’s Euro Leagues Football Show

I think this is the final, or should have been the final in terms of the two strongest teams left. The fact it’s over two legs doesn’t work in Arsenal’s favour – you have seen the European know-how from Atletico in the last few years.

They have consistently knocked out better teams because they are almost a machine built for European football. They don’t concede and they need one chance to score two goals.

You think it’s a horrible match-up for Arsenal as they’re the opposite.

European football writer Julien Laurens on the BBC Radio 5 live’s Euro Leagues Football Show

I think Arsenal can definitely do it. Atletico were not that good at the weekend against Real Betis, drawing 0-0, or against Sporting Lisbon in the last round. The second leg, they lost 1-0 but it could have been 3-0. They were so bad.

Whether they have Diego Costa fit or not is a huge factor. Antoine Griezmann is not the same player when he’s not there.

Winning the Europa League would be an amazing farewell for Wenger. It would be a fairytale but football is no fairytale.

Wenger faces 125th different team – the stats

  • This is the first meeting between these sides – Atletico will be the 10th Spanish side the Gunners have faced in Europe.
  • Arsenal are appearing in their eighth European semi-final – they have progressed from six of the previous seven, only failing to reach the final in 2008-09 in the Champions League when they lost to Manchester United.
  • This will be Atletico’s third Europa League semi-final, winning over two legs against Liverpool in 2009-10 and Valencia in 2011-12 to reach the final in their previous two.
  • Arsenal have scored 29 goals in the Europa League this season, more than any other side. In only one previous European campaign have the Gunners scored more, netting 30 in 1999-2000 when they competed in both the Champions League and the Uefa Cup.
  • Atletico Madrid have scored 15 goals in their six Europa League games this season, giving them the best goals-per-game average in the competition (2.5).
  • Arsene Wenger will face his 125th different opponent as Arsenal boss – he has only lost his first match against 10 of the previous 124.
  • Mesut Ozil had a hand in five goals in seven starts against Atletico in all competitions (4 goals, 1 assist) when he played for Real Madrid.
  • Diego Costa has scored three goals in six matches against Arsenal (all for Chelsea), scoring in his last appearance against them at Wembley in the FA Cup final in May 2017 – he also scored the winner at the Emirates in a 1-0 victory in January 2016.
  • Diego Simeone is yet to lose an away European match in England as Atletico manager (W1 D2), with one win and a draw against Chelsea and a draw with Leicester City.


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