Arsene Wenger defends Mesut Ozil after Arsenal's loss to Atletico Madrid

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Mesut Ozil was the target of criticism after Arsenal crashed out of the Europa League.

Arsene Wenger was forced to leap to the defence of Mesut Ozil after he was singled out for stinging criticism following Arsenal‘s Europa League semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid.

With the tie level at 1-1 heading into the second-leg at the Wanda Metropolitano, former Chelsea striker Diego Costa hit the only goal on the night to seal a 2-1 aggregate win for the La Liga side.

Defeat for Arsenal means Wenger will leave at the end of the season with no silverware and with the club likely to finish sixth – the lowest position since the Frenchman arrived over 21 years ago.

But the 68-year-old offered a vehement defence of Ozil after former Arsenal defender Martin Keown lambasted his performance while working on BT Sport.

“I haven’t been happy with him for some time,” Keown said of the Germany international.

“It seems as though he picks and chooses his games. He was on the edge of things today. I bet he doesn’t play again this season. He will have some emotional breakdown and won’t be able to play at the weekend.

“I don’t know how many illnesses he has had this season but the fella is not kidding me. That is not a proper performance. He isn’t giving everything and there is a lot more under the bonnet.

Wenger manager

“He wasn’t fit to wear the shirt for me tonight and I have seen this a lot this season and it needs to be said.”

But Wenger fired back at his former player, claiming his “extreme” comments were out of place.

“I don’t agree with that,” he said of Keown’s assessment.

“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.”

Wenger was asked about his own future plans following the defeat but said he could not think about anything past the pain of dropping out of the competition.

“I have to recover first from a huge disappointment tonight,” he said.

“I am very, very sad to leave the club with that exit. I will take some time to recover from that and after I will see what I do with myself in the future.”

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Alexandre Lacazette powerless to stop Arsenal from crashing out of Europa League in loss to Atletico Madrid

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Lacazette was let down by his teammates in a disappointing display.

Arsenal crashed out of the Europa League after losing 1-0 to Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their semi-final and 2-1 on aggregate, denying manager Arsene Wenger the chance to end his career at the club with a European trophy.

Alexandre Lacazette was powerless to stop Arsenal’s exit after a disappointing display.

Here’s an in-depth look at how the Frenchman fared.

KEY STATS

Goals – 0

Assists – 0

Shots – 0

Shots on target – 0

Pass Accuracy – 96%

Key Passes – 1

Dribbles – 1

Touches – 36

30-SECOND REPORT

An uninspiring display from the Arsenal striker. In fairness, Lacazette rarely received the service he needs to thrive, with strike partner Danny Welbeck in particular disappointing, and Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan weren’t able to set him up either.

Nonetheless, Lacazette’s inability to create anything for himself revealed his limits as a player, and his indecisiveness cost Arsenal a potential goal.

GOT RIGHT

His passing was crisp and his movement helped him get into dangerous positions during Arsenal’s attacks. Indeed, had Arsenal’s crossing been better, Lacazette would likely have gotten a goal; he was in the right place to pounce on a chance quite often, only for the chance to never come. The Frenchman has every right to be disappointed in his teammates.

GOT WRONG

His hold-up play wasn’t great, as Atletico’s hard-nosed defence gave him no quarter – and it wasn’t a battle Lacazette seemed to relish. That’s a stark contrast to his opposite number, as Diego Costa thrives on such contests. And as much as he was let down by his teammates’ poor service, he still had Arsenal’s best chance and failed to convert.

Lacazette missed Arsenal's best chance to score.

Lacazette missed Arsenal’s best chance to score.

KEY MOMENTS

27th minute, CHANCE: Lacazette got a run on goal after breaking through Atletico’s back line, but couldn’t get a shot off thanks to excellent keeping by Jan Oblak.

VERDICT

This was a display that showed two key aspects of Lacazette’s game: one, that his effort and work rate will rarely be lacking, and two, that he will struggle to create chances for himself. There’s no shame in that – many top-notch strikers are similar – but it will cost Arsenal on occasion. That being said, he would have expected better from his teammates.

RATING – 6/10

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Analysis of Antoine Griezmann's performance during Atletico Madrid's win over Arsenal

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Griezmann was the star man for Atlético yet again.

Atlético Madrid are through to the Europa League final after a hard-fought 1-0 win at home over Arsenal.

Antoine Griezmann, who scored in the first leg, starred again on Thursday to seal his side’s place in the decider.

Here’s a closer look at the Frenchman’s performance on the night.

KEY STATS

Goals – 0

Assists – 1

Shots – 3

Shots on target – 0

Pass Accuracy – 82%

Key Passes – 2

Dribbles – 4

Touches – 75

30-SECOND REPORT

Griezmann was Atlético’s best player on the night, popping up everywhere, driving relentlessly at Arsenal’s defence, and showing his usual knack for holding up the ball and dribbling past defenders. Having scored the first-leg goal that put his team in command of the tie, he spent Thursday’s second leg driving home that advantage, and duly picked up an assist.

GOT RIGHT

Just about everything. His trademark close control and dribbling ability were on display throughout, and his link-up play with Diego Costa was outstanding. The pass he delivered for Atlético’s goal could not have been played better, a simple but lethal through ball for the former Chelsea man. Apart from that, his work rate was what any manager would dream of getting from their star player.

Griezmann set up Costa for Atletico's winner.

Griezmann set up Costa for Atletico’s winner.

GOT WRONG

His finishing was below par. There was a difficult first-half chance which he fashioned for himself, doing well to create space but shooting wide when he should have at least forced a save. He had a chance to put the game to bed in the second half when set up by Costa, but saw his shot denied by a last-ditch block.

KEY MOMENTS

39th minute, SHOT: Griezmann served notice of the threat he can possess, spinning clear of Jack Wilshere and then rolling a shot inches past the far post.

45 + 2nd minute, ASSIST: Atlético got the goal that won the tie thanks to a quick break. A long ball fell to Griezmann, whose pass to Costa was perfectly measured to allow the Spaniard to finish.

67th minute, SHOT: The Griezmann-Costa partnership was at it again, and the Frenchman will wonder how he didn’t score. Costa’s cross teed up the Atlético No. 7 in the box, only for his shot to be blocked.

VERDICT

If this is to be Griezmann’s last season at Atletico, as is likely, then Thursday’s performance was an indicator of how determined he is to end his time at the club on a winning note. On another night, he would have added a goal to cap off an excellent display. This was a display that put his side in the final.

RATING – 8/10

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