Arsenal are set to continue their Europa League action when they face Villarreal CF in the Semi-Final despite the raging storm of division clouding around the North London Club.
In the wake of fans’ demand that owners, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment should resign or sell the club to another buyer who understands what it means to be a gunner.
It is embarrassing that a team such as Arsenal will be sitting in the 10th position of the Premier League, could go in 11th if Aston Villa wins or gets a point from its game in hand, and recording their lowest point after decades ago with only one hope for Uefa Champions League football, winning the Europa League.
Away from the raging trouble, Mikel Arteta is going to face his predecessor, Unai Emery for the first time since being an Arsenal Manager, and many will say, with the fury in Emery’s camp, it will be easy for the gunners to be crushed by a Villarreal team who are doing pretty well, this term.
It is known to all fans that for Mikel Arteta, this is the only way which he can salvage his season, and determine if he will still be the manager of this team next season, yes of course there has always been discussion mentioning Arteta of being at the helm for the long term process, the recent signs around the club tells different as the patience of fans decrease with every game, although few are still holding on, just a few still “trust the process”
Villarreal is the only threat to Arsenal right now in the battle for a place in the Europa League final, and it is a team placed in the hand of former Arsenal coach, Unai Emery who took the gunners to the final of this competition in 2019 and who was replaced after the Final’s 4-1 loss to Chelsea in Baku “road to Baku” that slogan will haunt plenty Arsenal fan.
This is the second meeting of both teams in a European tournament semi-final, the first being in the 2006 Champions League match at Highbury where a Kolo Toure header sent the gunners through to the final to face Barcelona.
Although Emery was calm in the face of the media when speaking about Arsenal recently and praising the gunners and Arteta saying there is “progress” and that he is “grateful” for his term there, as a human, there will still be a part of him which seeks revenge and which can put this as his own “final” or at least a game to vindicate his profession, he knows he is well-positioned to get it, he is a serial Europa league winner, he has the experience in this competition, winning it thrice with Sevilla, reaching the final with the Gunners, and he is now doing a good job at Villarreal, wow, what are the odds!.
On both teams we have good scorers, the Yellow Submarines, defeated Dinamo Zagreb 3-1 to be in the last four, while the gunners won Slavia-Prague 4-1 two weeks ago.
It is hurtful that for all his reputation in this League, Unai Emery couldn’t replicate his form when he was the head coach of the gunners, and that will make him want to prove to the world that he did all he could to help Arsenal, but he was betrayed, what a bitter-love story it would be, Emery’s Villarreal have won 11 out of their 12 Europa league matches this season, including a 6 in 6 home game wins, and they have also managed to score at least twice in all six of those matches, but they are hosting the gunners after two defeats in the La-Liga, after losing to Alaves and Barcelona successively.
Samuel Chikezie opened the scoring of their last match after a fast runoff Gerald Pique, dribbling past the Barcelona goal-keeper to score the first goal, but unfortunately, two quick goals from Antoine Griezmann made his goalless important, but still, Villarreal tried and showed beautiful football that can wreck any defense if care isn’t taken.
Villarreal like Arsenal are both looking for their first Europa League title, last time they got to the semi-finals of the tournament, they faced another English side, Liverpool, who sent them crashing home in the 2015/16 season.
For Arsenal, the Calamity of the #Kroenkeout and a defeat at home to Everton could spark unrest in the mind of the players, board, and the fans mostly with them facing in-form Villarreal, this is a Challenge to the gunners that they can turn the boat around, there should be hope amongst each other, as old tale never lies, the Arsenal are no cowards, and this is the only hope for Europa football action.
Villarreal midfielder Trigueros is fit to play in this match despite seeing a red card in domestic league action, but Vincent Iborra remains out with a knee issue, Francis Coquelin would have loved to play against his old club, but he will have to be on the bench for Dani Parejo and Etienne Capoue, the engine rooms. Loanee from Tottenham Hotspur, Juan Foyth will play at right-back while fresh off injury, Pervis Estupinan who played against Barcelona will likely replace Alberto Moreno at the left side.
Their top scorer Gerard Moreno who has 26 goals in all competitions will be glad to score his 7th goal in a row in the competition as well as six from his last five matches if he scores this week.
The gunners received a boost in midfield as Martin Odegaard played against Everton following an ankle problem, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre Aubameyang, Kieran Tierney, and David Luiz are all said by Arteta to be in contention to play also.
Although he is known for being cautious when bringing back players in the team, the returning players could be used from the bench and hopeful they can make impacts, Gabriel Magalhaes may replace Pablo Mari at the central back while Pepe could make a shift for Odegaard, but the Ivorian has been impressive so far.
Asenjo; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Estupinan;
Chukwueze, Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros;
Leno; Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Xhaka;
Partey, Ceballos, Saka, Odegaard, Pepe;
Both teams are known to want to fight for the spot in the final, and with both teams eager to outplay each other in a game of possession, a forward advance game may be short, but there should be goals on both sides,
I think it could be Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal.
Match Preview by Adeyemo Adesola