Unai Emery on his return, will try again to outfox his former employers Arsenal, and having orchestrated a massive first-leg victory last time, Villareal are in the driving seat for progression to the final.
Europa League 2020/2021
Kick-off: 20:00 pm
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal surely were in for a tough game last time out in the Europa League after conceding twice inside half an hour at the Estadio De La Ceramica.
Nicholas Pepe’s penalty goal however meant they are not completely out of it, but needing at least a goal cushion to secure their progress to their second final in three years in this competition, there are no room for errors for Mikel Arteta’s side on Thursday.
Most importantly, they go into this very crucial game with the wind in their sails following a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United, a win which snapped a three-game winless run for the Gunners.
Villarreal meanwhile, travel to North London looking to consolidate on their slim lead. With a first-ever European competition final in their sights, the Spanish side’s terrific nine-game winning streak in this competition comes in handy, a run during which they have scored at least twice on seven different occasions, and a 1-1 draw away at Maccabi Tel Aviv represents the only time in this season’s edition where the men in yellow had failed to come up trumps.
Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol came up with the goods in the first leg, but it was Yeremy Pino who came off the bench to hit the winner in the 1-0 victory against Getafe last weekend as the Yellow Submarines geared up for this test.
It promises to be an exciting affair at the Emirates on Thursday, and so throws up a number of betting angles for punters.
Kieran Tierney and Alexandre Lacazette have been joined on the treatment table by David Luiz who misses out with a hamstring injury.
Dani Ceballos is not available for selection following his red in the first leg.
Etienne Capoue was dismissed as he was being stretchered off in the first leg, and so will play no part here.
Juan Foyth is an injury worry for Emery after pulling up in the first leg and playing no part on the weekend. Vicente Iborra is ruled out too.
Arsenal last five EL games: WLDWL
Villareal last five EL games: WWWWW
Villareal have lost their previous two Europa League semi-final ties. However, they are unbeaten in 11 successive Europa League games outside of Spanish soil.
This is only the second European semi-final in ten where Arsenal have lost in the first tie, with the previous such tie culminating in elimination for them.
Emery and Villarreal will be more than happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, as the ex-Arsenal boss not only has his pedigree in this competition to maintain, but also a sense of personal pride as he seeks to dump his former employers out of the tournament.
For Arsenal, they are still within a chance of progressing to the final, and Arteta will aim to galvanise his charges, most of who were well-rested last weekend.
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