The UEFA Europa League is back with another round of knock-out fixtures this week as Arsenal take on Villarreal in a semi-final clash at the Estadio de la Ceramica on Thursday. Both teams have been inconsistent this season and have a point to prove going into this match.
Arsenal find themselves in a lowly 10th place in the Premier League standings at the moment and will view the Europa League as an opportunity to salvage the remainder of their season. The Gunners were stunned by Everton over the weekend and cannot afford another calamity this week.
Villarreal suffered a 2-1 defeat against Catalan giants Barcelona in their previous game and will also need to bounce back in this fixture. The Yellow Submarines can be impressive on their day and manager Unai Emery will have a point to prove against his former side on Thursday.
Villarreal vs Arsenal Head-to-Head
Arsenal have a good record against Villarreal and have won two out of four games played between the two teams. Villarreal have never defeated Arsenal in an official fixture and will want to make history this week.
The previous meeting between the two teams took place in the UEFA Champions League in 2009 and ended in an emphatic 3-0 victory for Arsenal. Villarreal have shown tremendous improvement over the past year and will be able to put up more of a fight on Thursday.
Villarreal form guide: L-L-W-W-L
Arsenal form guide: L-D-W-W-D
Villarreal vs Arsenal Team News
With Vicente Iborra injured for this game, Manu Trigueros and Etienne Capoue will have to do much of the heavy lifting for Villarreal in the midfield. Pervis Estupinan has made with progress with his recovery and is available for selection.
Injured: Vicente Iborra
With Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both ruled out of this match, Eddie Nketiah will have to lead the line for Arsenal. David Luiz and Kieran Tierney are also struggling with their fitness and will be unable to play a part in this fixture.
Injured: Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, David Luiz, Kieran Tierney
Villarreal vs Arsenal Predicted XI
Villarreal Predicted XI (4-3-3): Geronimo Rulli; Alfonso Pedraza, Pau Torres, Raul Albiol, Juan Foyth; Etienne Capoue, Manu Trigueros, Dani Parejo; Gerard Moreno, Carlos Bacca, Samuel Chukwueze
Arsenal Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Bernd Leno; Rob Holding, Granit Xhaka, Pablo Mari, Hector Bellerin; Thomas Partey, Dani Ceballos; Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe; Eddie Nketiah
Villarreal vs Arsenal Prediction
Arsenal have occasionally presented glimpses of their potential under Mikel Arteta this season but will be up against a stern challenge on Thursday. The likes of Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe have been impressive in the Europa League and will likely play an important role in Arsenal's fortunes against their Spanish opponents.
Villarreal have plenty of talent in their ranks and the likes of Gerard Moreno and Carlos Bacca are perfectly capable of packing a punch on their day. The Yellow Submarines also have the home advantage and might be able to take something away from this fixture.
Prediction: Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal