Charlie Nicholas: Why 26-year-old will fire Arsenal to win over Atletico Madrid
Charlie Nicholas previews Arsenal's clash with Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-finals
Charlie Nicholas is backing Alexandre Lacazette to fire Arsenal to victory over Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday night.
The Gunners are preparing to host the Spanish side at The Emirates in the first leg of their semi-final showdown as they look to take a step closer towards the final in Lyon next month.
Arsenal warmed up for the game with a 4-1 win over West Ham United in the Premier League last weekend, with Lacazette scoring twice late on at The Emirates.
Atletico Madrid are taking on Arsenal for a place in the final against either Red Bull Salzburg or Marseille next month.
And former Arsenal star Nicholas is expecting to see Lacazette continue his recent good form by finding the net against Diego Simeone’s men on Thursday night.
Writing in his column for Sky Sports, Nicholas said: “Arsenal finally made the breakthrough announcement they needed, with Arsene Wenger confirming his departure at the end of the season, but I don’t think the Gunners were overly impressive at the weekend.
“I thought it was a really strange selection not starting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Alexandre Lacazette has found himself some scoring form but he’s probably still thinking he wishes his move to Atletico Madrid had gone through in the summer.
“Atletico are heavy favourites for me with their defensive strength and Arsenal’s backline constantly making me nervous. How Shkodran Mustafi is still in the team is beyond me, but the competition isn’t really there.
“There’s not much between these two sides other than their defences and I can see Arsenal scoring a couple of times at the Emirates Stadium, but my concern is keeping that concentration to prevent Atletico snatching a vital away goal.”
Arsenal are currently sixth in the Premier League table so their best hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League is to win the Europa League this term.
Arsene Wenger announced last week that this is to be his last season at Arsenal and that he will be standing down at the end of the campaign after 22 years in charge.