Villarreal vs Arsenal: 5 key battles | UEFA Europa League 2020-21

Arsenal face Villarreal on Thursday.
Arsenal face Villarreal on Thursday.
Sachin Bhat
Modified 28 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

Arsenal will look to reach their second Europa League final in three years when they take on Villarreal in the first leg of their last-four clash in the 2020-21 Europa League at the El Madrigal on Thursday.

Unai Emery will be going up against his old team for the first time since getting the boot in November 2019.

His success in the competition and familiarity with Arsenal could make Villarreal the favourites in this game. But Arsenal, despite all their struggles this season, cannot be underestimated.

Nevertheless, it's going to be an enticing tactical battle featuring some enticing player duels that could have an impact on the game's outcome.

On that note, let's have a look at the top five player battles in this game to watch out for.

#1 Pau Torres (Villareal) vs Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal)

Villarreal may not have it easy against Arsenal
Villarreal may not have it easy against Arsenal's top-scorer this season.

Pau Torres is quickly becoming the next big thing in Spanish football. A centre-back by trade, he has produced performances that have drawn him comparisons with Sergio Ramos. He is widely expected to replace the Real Madrid legend.

However, on Thursday, he could face a tough task against Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal's top-scorer this season, with 17 goals. Inconsistency has been the Frenchman's Achilles heel, but he remains a tricky customer on his day.

Lacazette tore Slavia Praha to shreds in Arsenal's last Europa League game, scoring a brace, so the Gunners will hope he can replicate the same form at the El Madrigal.

#2 David Luiz (Arsenal) vs Gerard Moreno (Villareal)

Gerard Moreno is arguably the most in-form La Liga striker right now.
Gerard Moreno is arguably the most in-form La Liga striker right now.

Despite his occasional defensive gaffes being well-documented, David Luiz has improved considerably under Mikel Arteta. He has struggled with injuries this season, but the Arsenal manager has confirmed that Luiz will be in contention to start against Villareal.

If he does so, Luiz could face a baptism by fire, as he will come up against the in-form striker Gerard Moreno, who has scored 26 goals in all competitions for Villarreal this season.

Moreno won't be the only threat Arsenal will face, but keeping the striker quiet will go a long way towards getting a favourable result for the visitors.

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Published 28 Apr 2021
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