But Arsenal could not make the most of their advantage, trying to walk the ball in.
That Arsenal team knew how to finish off an opponent.
Wenger himself voiced his frustration at the inability of his players to do what his greats were able to do without even thinking.
"We're talking to the club to see what can be done".
Arsene Wenger's side have been pinging the ball around for fun ever since, however, Atletico have proved their defensive solidity as it's taken their Premier League opposition an hour to break them down.
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"We can only look at ourselves", he said. We had 20 shots on goal, against Manchester United we had 23 on goal, but lost.
"We've got to try and make sure that doesn't happen again".
Asked if Wenger's imminent departure provided added incentive for next week's away leg, Welbeck said: 'It's a semi-final - we wanted to win before the manager announced he was leaving and we wanted to win it after.
The second leg is in the Spanish capital next Thursday.
But Atletico's defence never crumbled and, after a string of fine saves from man of the match Jan Oblak, Antoine Griezmann broke clear to score a crucial away goal.
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But that is part of the problem. Sadly, it was just all so Arsenal.
In the 82nd minute Griezmann escaped the attentions of Laurent Koscielny following a long, hopeful ball over the top and, although Ospina blocked the forward's first effort, he swept home the rebound as Shkodran Mustafi slipped.
He said on BT Sport: "It's disappointing to take the lead and then to concede a goal right near the end". It has gone on for too long now, so it is no surprise that Wenger's last chance of a trophy with Arsenal has been placed in jeopardy by the two biggest failings of the second half of his reign.
Cazorla did a light training session on the Emirates pitch before Thursday's Europa League semifinal against Atletico Madrid as he continues his rehab from a troublesome Achilles injury that has kept him sidelined for more than 18 months.
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