By Joe Harker
It turns out Friday 13 really is unlucky if you're an Arsenal fan. Atletico Madrid were the one team Gunners manager Arsene Wenger said he didn't want to be up against but the Europa League draw was not so kind.
Facing Atletico was likely to happen at some point if Arsenal wanted to win the competition but they will probably not relish the idea of facing the Spanish side over two legs, particularly with an away trip to Manchester United sandwiched in the middle.
The Independent describes it as a "nightmare" for Arsenal as their opponents will be the favourites to progress. Atletico are second in La Liga, above rivals Real Madrid, and are a well drilled side that boasts tactical nous and brilliant attacking talents. In many ways they are what disgruntled Arsenal fans want their team to be, with a strong work ethic and an impressive style of play.
The Europa League clash will be the first time the two clubs have met in a competitive fixture so it will be a new challenge for Wenger and his team. The Daily Telegraph suggests the manager's future depends on winning the competition but is pessimistic about his chances of success. Perhaps Arsenal hoped another side would do them a favour and knock Atletico out, but instead they will have to win the hard way.
One Atletico player Arsenal will not be looking forward to facing is Diego Costa, who was something of a pantomime villain for the Gunners during his time at Chelsea. The striker faces a battle to be back from injury but if he is then he might relish the chance to torment Arsenal's defence once more.
Despite the difficult draw some Arsenal fans are eagerly anticipating the semi finals. There was optimism from some who hoped their team could win the tie while others were looking forward to the difficult test that Atletico will pose. However, others are less thrilled and are cursing their luck at drawing what is perceived to be the strongest team in the competition.
It will be difficult, but certainly not impossible, for Arsenal to progress to the final. Atletico are beatable and the Gunners might rise to the occasion and prove many wrong, including some of their own fans.
No team is without weakness and Arsenal fan Andrew Dowdeswell believes he has identified a lack of pace from some of Atletico's older defenders and midfielders that could be exploited. Defensively they will have to work out how to stop Antoine Griezmann, who has been on a brilliant goalscoring run. Still, Arsenal are not without their own attacking talents, possessing the creativity and firepower to break through even the best defences.
Their biggest challenge might be having to play over two legs. Even if they get a good result in the first game they will have to face Atletico again. This is the time for Arsenal to prove they're good enough to win the Europa League.