Atletico Madrid 1 Arsenal 0
Costa 45+2
(2-1 on aggregate)

There will be no fairytale ending for Arsene Wenger who saw Arsenal succumb to a 2-1 aggregate loss against Atletico Madrid in their Europa League semi-final second leg in Spain. With the scores level at 1-1 from the first leg at the Emirates, the Gunners’ inability to take their chances at home against Atletico who were reduced to ten men after ten minutes a week ago came back to cost them. Inevitably it was a goal from their former Chelsea nemesis Diego Costa which did the damage deep in first half injury time on a night in which despite playing a good game, Arsenal could never muster any period of sustained pressure to break Jan Oblak’s goal. The giant keeper did have to react quickly to deny Granit Xhaka, and Aaron Ramsey was unable to shift his shape quickly enough to shoot when close. So after 22 years at the club, Wenger will leave Arsenal after the away game at Huddersfield with Sunday’s hosting of Burnley his farewell home game.

Following the loss, Wenger said “I think it was a very intense game between two teams who gave absolutely everything. I would say the team who won tonight is Atletico Madrid. Congratulations to them and good luck in the final. I would say that the winner of tonight’s game is the clear favourite to win the competition.”

What is it about big games and Arsenal? We’ve been here before, but his time the players were unable to turn up for their manager who they know won’t be there next season. With many also at the World Cup in Russia, might some have had an eye on games for their national side. One player who look unlikely be at the World Cup is Laurent Koscielny who buckled over with what might be a ruptured Achilles injury. What excuse do the likes of Mesut Ozil and Hector Bellerin in particular have for their respective inept outings? Wenger felt that Atletico were fortunate to get away with “clever” play

“We missed something in the final third because we had plenty of opportunities. if you look at the number of chances we created over the two games, the least you can say is that we can be very frustrated. In the first game, the tie should be over and in the second game, in the first half, we had plenty of opportunities but we always missed something in the final ball.

“They are a team who defends well. I believe as well we re a bit unlucky a few times because I think Gabi is happy to stay on the pitch, they broke up a few counter attacks voluntarily and it took the referee a while to give a yellow to Gabi and they were in situations where we could have been very dangerous., But overall they are a clever side who defends very well. Godin tonight saved five or six balls on crosses in amazing positions, great defenders.”

Not having won a European trophy with Arsenal will be an unfortunate statistic for Wenger.

“I’m like the team, very sad and very disappointed. Overall I’m even very frustrated as well. When you go out of a competition and give the performances we did over 180 minutes, it’s very difficult to take. Now for the club, they’ve got some time to think a out what to do for next season. I think there are some good ingredients in our team and they will bounce back. These players have quality and with the right additions in the summer, they have the ingredients to compete next year.”

On hearing of former player Martin Keown’s critical analysis of Oil’s game, Wenger defended his midfielder.

“I don’t agree with that, you will see that when you analyse his physical performance that he gave a lot tonight. It was a difficult game, physically very intense and I am convinced that Ozil should not be now victimised by anyone because we did not score. We had plenty of opportunities in the two games and we lose as a team. I don’t agree with that coming out now straight away. When you want to be listened to now, you always have to be extreme. But football is more complicated and complex than that.” With games at Leicester next Wednesday, and Huddersfield the following Sunday ahead of Burnely’s arrival in N5, Arsenal will have to front up for their ongoing manager who will be a massive miss. The future however may reflect the way the game is going, with a younger more dynamic and pragmatic approach from maybe a duo to inherit the mantle of Wenger, Arsenal’s most successful ever manager.