Arsenal are looking to overturn a narrow deficit as they host Villarreal in the second leg of this Europa League semi-final. A place in the final where Manchester United surely await is the prize for the winner of this tie.
Where and when: Emirates Stadium – 6 May, kick-off 20:00
Where you can see Arsenal vs. Villarreal: BT Sport
Last time: Nicolas Pepe scored what could turn out to be a crucial late penalty in last week’s first leg, salvaging a 2-1 defeat for Arsenal who went down to 10 men with more than half an hour to play and the score 2-0 to Villarreal.
Arsenal v Villarreal Predictions and Preview
Villarreal put in an excellent performance in the first leg, and were unfortunate to concede an away goal via what can only described as a very soft penalty. Arsenal should consider themselves very lucky to be right in this tie at the midway point, with a great chance to reach the Europa League final later this month.
A place in the final would not only give both of these clubs the opportunity to win this competition for the first time in their history, it also provides an avenue into next season’s Champions League with neither team now able to qualify through their domestic leagues.
Moreover, this tournament is a huge opportunity for Villarreal to win their first ever major trophy. It would also be a strong vindication of Mikel Arteta’s methods, following a disastrous first full season in charge at the Emirates.
Arsenal are down in ninth place in the Premier League and have a battle on their hands to avoid a bottom-half finish. That would be a remarkable embarrassment in any season for a club of the Gunners’ size and stature, but even more so in this one given their recent involvement in the failed European Super League.
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Arsenal to win and BTTS
Arsenal to win 2-1
Aubameyang to score first
Villarreal are one of the teams who would’ve effectively been banished from competing in Europe’s top competition through those plans, while their coach Unai Emery has something of an axe to grind against his former employers.
Whether those issues were contributing factors or not, the Yellow Submarine certainly played with the bit between their teeth last week. Perhaps buoyed by that performance, Villarreal won their first La Liga game in three at the weekend. They have struggled for consistency this season though, and the visitors are the 17/5 underdogs to beat Arsenal for the second time in a week.
A draw would of course be enough to see Villarreal through to the final, and that’s priced at 11/4. However, there’s no doubt the home team are the favourites in these Arsenal v Villarreal predictions, priced at 10/11 with William Hill.
The Gunners produced a good performance at the weekend in beating an in-form Newcastle United 2-0, as they also won their first game in three in the league. Arsenal under Arteta have often produced decent displays in short bursts, and their supporters will hope that trend continues here.
The hosts have the superior quality in the attacking third, and that could be the difference in this tie. Arsenal will need to be defensively strong though in order to keep down the number of goals they need to score themselves. They start as the slight underdogs to qualify for the final at 21/17, with Villarreal the narrow 13/17 favourites.
One to watch for Arsenal: Nicolas Pepe has scored six goals in the Europa League so far this season, which is double any of his team mates have managed. The Ivorian winger is 6/1 to add to his tally with the opener here.
One to watch for Villarreal: Gerard Moreno also has six Europa League goals to his name this term, along with a further 20 in 29 La Liga appearances. He is 13/2 in the first goalscorer odds for this semi-final second leg.
Long shot: Arsenal’s Europa League adventures are usually fraught with drama and excitement. A 2-1 home win would take this tie to extra-time, and is priced at 8/1 in our Arsenal v Villarreal tips. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring first, those odds rise to 41/1.