Nicholas expecting Arsenal to concede in vital Europa League showdown against Atletico

Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas believes that Atletico Madrid will grab a crucial away goal against Arsenal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday night.

The Gunners arguably got the worst possible draw, which will make it that much tougher to go all the way in the competition.

The Europa League is not regarded as highly as the Champions League, but taking home the trophy is a huge priority for Arsenal.

Not only will it be the perfect way to say goodbye to long-standing manager Arsene Wenger, it will secure a place in next season’s top-tiered tournament.

The North London outfit are not expected to qualify for the Champions League via the domestic route as they sit 11 points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

On Thursday, Arsenal will take on an Atletico team that have picked up just one victory in their last five outings.

In a predictions piece for Sky Sports, Nicholas backed Arsenal to claim victory at the Emirates, but expects Diego Simeone’s side to get on the scoresheet.

“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.”