It really is the hope that kills you


(Photo by Adrian Dennis / AFP)

Despite most Arsenal fans packing away their belief in this side, the first leg against Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-final saw many get it out again, for 82 minutes at least.

The Grove was rocking, and the players responded. Even the French referee seemed keen to ensure that nothing would go wrong for Arsene Wenger’s final European home tie as Arsenal manager.

But the self-destruct streak runs thick through this Arsenal side and just moments after I commented how awesome it was that we had hardly heard Shkodran Mustafi’s name mentioned, Laurent Koscielny kicked the ball into his own face, the German fell over, and Arsenal fans were crushed once again.

It seems harsh to deduct points from the rest of the team based on a 20-second spell of abject idiocy from the Arsenal defence but there is no denying that the Griezmann goal changed this tie beyond recognition and the lack of a cutting edge at the other end was as much responsible for this result as the defensive cock-up.

From the belief that this Arsenal side really could go on and win the Europa League, fans are now left facing an all-but-impossible mission in Madrid next week.

So how did the players get on individually?

Next, defence, midfield, forwards, subs and notable mentions…