UEL Match Preview: Arsenal vs Villarreal Predictions

Arsenal vs Villarreal

Arsenal vs Villarreal predictions and match preview for Thursday’s game in the UEFA Europa League. Read on for the team news, analysis and predicted lineups as the Yellow Submarine target a first European Final.

  • DATE: Thursday 6th May 2021
  • KICK-OFF: 21:00 (CET)
  • VENUE: Estadio Ceramica
  • COMPETITION: UEFA Europa League Semi Final, 2nd Leg
  • Villarreal lead 2-1 on aggregate.

Arsenal vs Villarreal Preview

Arsenal stadiumEmirates Stadium via Ronnia Macdonald, CC BY 2.0

A first-ever European final is on the line for Villarreal as they travel to North London to take on Arsenal in the Europa League semi final second leg on Thursday. The Yellow Submarine are 2-1 up after the first leg but will feel the lead should’ve been bigger and more comfortable.

Villarreal were perfect and outclassed the Gunners in the first half, leading 2-0 via goals from Manu Trigueros and Raúl Albiol. However, the second half didn’t exactly go to plan. Arsenal midfielder Dani Ceballos was sent off before the hour mark but Emery’s men couldn’t use it to their advantage to strengthen their lead. Instead, a controversial penalty decision meant that Nicolas Pépé pulled one back from the spot for the away side before the hosts had Étienne Capoue sent off as it finished ten vs ten.

The away goal for the English side has put them right back in the tie and made Villarreal’s task a lot tougher than what it would’ve been if it ended 2-0. Nevertheless, Unai Emery is the last man to doubt on a big occasion like this. The Europa League has been his bread and butter over the past few years and that’s the exact reason why he was hired by Villarreal – to win a trophy. Now, only 90 minutes separate the Basque manager from his fifth UEL final in seven attempts.

At the weekend, Emery expectedly made six changes to the side. They overcame Getafe 1-0, ending their two match losing run in the league. Youngster Yéremi Pino came off the bench to score the winner 11 minutes from time to put Villarreal back on track to qualify for next season’s UEL. Though, that won’t matter if they lift the trophy this season, as it will then mean a return to the Champions League after a decade.

For Arsenal though, the Europa League seems like their only path to continental qualification next season with the Gunners placed 9th in the Premier League at the moment. Their home form won’t really provide them confidence to turn this tie around. They are winless in their last five games at the Emirates in all competitions, scoring only twice. But, their last home win was a big one, 2-1 against derby rivals Tottenham in mid-March. Keeping a clean sheet will be crucial for them on Thursday but Arsenal haven’t managed that at home since January.

On Sunday, Mikel Arteta’s side bounced back to winning ways with a 2-0 success at Newcastle United with goals from Elneny and Aubameyang. Both of them didn’t start in Spain but might do so on Thursday as Arteta would like to take control of the game from the get-go.

This tie is a rematch of the famous 2006 Champions League semi finals where Arsenal edged out debutants Villarreal by the narrowest of margins to book their first-ever UCL final berth. This time, it’s advantage Villarreal for now as they eye their maiden European final. The margins, however, might be just as narrow as they were 15 years ago.

Head to Head

  • Last 5 Meetings: 2 Arsenal Wins, 1 Villarreal Win, 2 Draws.
  • Villarreal won the 1st Leg 2-1 last week.
  • The sides also met in a Champions League Semi-Final in 2006 with Arsenal winning the 1st Leg 1-0 at Highbury while the return ended goalless.
  • They also met in the UCL last eight in 2009 with Arsenal advancing 4-1 on aggregate.

Team News

Villarreal’s Juan Foyth pulled his hamstring in the first leg and will not make the trip to England. Vicente Iborra is the other long-term absentee in midfield and Étienne Capoue’s suspension means that Francis Coquelin might start against his ex-team.

Arsenal’s David Luiz sustained a hamstring injury at the weekend. Both Kieran Tierney and Alexandre Lacazette remain doubtful for this tie. Dani Ceballos is suspended after being sent off last week.

Predicted Arsenal Starting Lineup:

Leno – Xhaka, Gabriel, Holding, Bellerín – Elneny, Partey – Saka, Smith-Rowe, Pépé – Aubameyang (4-2-3-1)

Predicted Villarreal Starting Lineup:

Rulli – Pedraza, Torres, Albiol, Gaspar – Trigueros, Parejo, Coquelin – Moreno, Alcácer, Chukwueze (4-3-3)

Arsenal vs Villarreal Predictions

Score Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Villarreal (Villarreal to win 3-2 on aggregate)

Though Villarreal might be disappointed that they couldn’t finish the tie off in the first leg, they surely will feel confident about getting the job done at the Emirates. Given Arsenal’s worrying home form and the fact that Villarreal have scored in each of their last 14 matches, Arteta’s men will have to deliver an impeccable performance to make it to the final in Gdańsk.

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About Akhil Rawat 41 Articles
Based in New Delhi, Akhil follows LaLiga and Spanish football religiously. Currently a novice in the world of football writing, he fancies expressing his passion for the league through words.