Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid: Analysis as Gunners lose out in penalty shootout

Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid: Analysis as Gunners lose out in penalty shootout

A mixed Arsenal team lost out to Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid.

TJ Wedderburn

Arsenal stepped up their pre season preparations with their participation in the annual International Champions Cup.

First up for Unai Emery's side were La Liga heavyweights Atletico Madrid. 

Emery named a mixed team, featuring first team players such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette, whilst young prospects such as Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson were also in the starting lineup.

Arsenal concede, despite controlling the game

The first half may have been a case of deja-vu for Arsenal fans. Despite controlling the majority of the half, first blood went to Atleti via want-away striker Luciano Vietto.

The Gunners pushed forward and attacked in their usual possession orientated manner. With summer signing Matteo Guendeouzi in particular seeing a lot of the ball. The 19-year-old played at the base of Arsenal's midfield and showed no signs of nerves, as he frequently collected the ball off his centre halves and distributed it well.

Arsenal's first real chance of the game came through Lacazette, the Frenchman wrestled the ball from Atletico youngster Toni Moya but saw his effort saved at the near post by Jan Oblak. Lacazette was then played through by Ramsey inside the right channel, but again was denied by Oblak.

Having not capitalised on their opportunities, Arsenal were punished as their opponents grew into the game and scored the opener. After good work by Angel Correa down the right hand side, his powerful cross was headed in by his fellow countryman Vietto to give the 2018 Europa League winners the lead.

Five minutes from half time Arsenal had conceded a goal when it looked like they were the most likely to score.

Smith Rowe brilliance, poor penalties

Arsenal's equaliser came just one minute into the second half through academy graduate Emile Smith Rowe.

The 17-year-old dribbled past three Atletico players before curling the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box. A truly magnificent goal from a player who has caused a lot of excitement with his performances at youth level.

Twenty minutes into the second half the game was still level and Arsenal had substitute Petr Cech to thank for that being the case. Both Ramsey and Guendouzi were caught out at the back trying to dribble the ball to safety, and Cech was forced into a point blank save from Thomas Partey.

Arsenal then rang the changes. Emery subbed on eight players, including the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Eddie Nketiah and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. 

The Gunners switched to a back three, and looked fairly comfortable in the system, but struggled to create chances against a stubborn Simeone-instructed defence. 

The game ended 1-1 and would be decided by a penalty shootout. Four of Arsenal's five penalties were saved by Atleti goalkeeper Antonio Adan, who stepped up to take the winning kick himself and blasted the ball beyond Cech.

A good workout for The Gunners but much work to do.