Charlie Nicholas states his prediction for Atletico Madrid v Arsenal
Charlie Nicholas looks ahead to Arsenal's clash with Atletico Madrid in the Europa League on Thursday night
Charlie Nicholas is tipping Arsenal to be knocked out of the Europa League by Atletico Madrid on Thursday night.
The Gunners were largely in control against 10-man Atletico in the first leg last week before Antoine Griezmann ended up netting what could be a crucial away goal for the Spanish side.
Arsenal were beaten 2-1 by Manchester United on Sunday as Arsene Wenger rung the changes ahead of the crunch second leg in Spain on Thursday night.
With Arsenal currently down in sixth place in the Premier League table, their last remaining hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League is to win the Europa League this term.
However, former Arsenal man Nicholas is not expecting to see the Gunners book their place in the final against either Marseille or Salzburg, and is instead tipping Atletico to progress thanks to a 2-1 win in Spain.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Nicholas said: “Can Arsenal do it? The answer is no for me, I’m afraid. I truly hope I’m wrong and they are in the tie still, but I fear they’ll fall just short once again.
“Forget that Atletico had 10 men in the first leg, that didn’t change the way they played, and it will be interesting to see how they approach the second leg.
“Diego Costa is back and he could join Kevin Gamiero in attack if they really want to force the issue, while Aaron Ramsey is key to getting on the ball in dangerous areas and creating chances for Alexandre Lacazette.
“Will Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny turn up? I just can’t trust them. All they had to do was sit in and protect that 1-0 lead and organise those around them, but they failed to do it.
“I was encouraged by Arsenal’s attacking display against United and I could actually see them scoring twice, but the difference is the defence and if they open up Atletico will outscore them.”
Wenger announced last month that this is to be his last season in charge of the Gunners, bringing an end to his 22-year reign at the north London club.
Arsenal are yet to announce Wenger’s successor as they look to appoint a manager capable of guiding the Gunners to a Premier League title challenge in the coming seasons.