Villarreal kick off their 2020-21 Europa League semi-final tie against Arsenal as they welcome Mikel Arteta’s Gunners to Estadio de la Ceramica in the first leg.
This tie sees ex Arsenal manager, Unai Emery come up against his former Gunners, as Villarreal look to reach their first Europa League final at the fourth time of asking.
Arsenal meanwhile are looking to reach their second Europa League final in three seasons, and third overall final in Europe’s second-tier competition after finishing runners-up in 1999-2000 UEFA Cup.
Villarreal have no fresh injury concerns to report ahead of this match with Unai Emery having a full squad in contention.
Manu Trigueros could well start this match because his suspension only applies to domestic game, having been red carded in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Barcelona.
Arsenal could welcome Kiernan Tierney back from a knee injury if he is declared fully fit by club doctors.
David Luiz (knee), Alexandre Lacazette (hamstring) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (illness) are also in contention to return.
- Villarreal are winless in four previous meetings against Arsenal (D2, L2), although this is their first European meeting held outside of the Champions League.
- Arsenal have drawn their two previous trips to Villarreal (D2), drawing 0-0 in April 2006 before being held to 1-1 draw in April 2009.
- All four previous meetings between these two clubs have coincidentally been held during the month of April in 2006 & 2009 respectively with Arsenal winning both ties overall on aggregate.
- 17 of Villarreal’s 25 Europa League goals (excluding walkover against Qarabag) this season have come from their strikers, as Gerard Moreno and Paco Alcacer scored six goals apiece.
- Only two of Nicholas Pepe’s five Europa League goals for Arsenal have come away from home.
Villarreal will benefit from the fact that Emery know how Arsenal like to play tactically but with five wins in 11 matches across all competitions in 2021, the Yellow Submarine need to be at their best here if are to capitalise on a shaky Arsenal team low on confidence.
Arsenal meanwhile will be relieved to have Tierney, Lacazette and Aubameyang back to add extra energy to their play, which was evidently absent except on the flanks in their Premier League loss to Everton whilst a defensive lapse cost them a point.
On that note, this game feels like one where the opening minutes will be key because Arsenal need to hit the ground running quickly with a strong reaction, otherwise Villarreal could well make this a tough contest but their poor home form might be their undoing.
Prediction: Villarreal 1-2 Arsenal