Arsenal have arrived at the Estadio de la Ceramica and we are just moments away from what is Mikel Arteta’s biggest game as a manager yet.
Villarreal are a tricky side to face and with former Gunners boss Unai Emery pulling the strings, things will not be easy. However, if we are at our best, Arsenal should come away with a fairly comfortable victory.
Arteta has surprised many people with his team selection.
Pepe leads the line, Auba on the bench
Under-fire Bernd Leno starts in goal and the German has to prove some people wrong after his howler against Everton. We all know how good he is, but recent mistakes have raised doubts, and he will want to squash them tonight.
Calum Chambers starts at right-back with Rob Holding and Pablo Mari picked in the heart of the defence.
Kieran Tierney is fitter than he was last week but he’s still not ready. As a result, Granit Xhaka keeps his place at left-back, and the Swiss international will be viewed as a weak spot by Villarreal boss Emery.
Dani Ceballos and Thomas Partey start in the middle of the park and both players have played against the Yellow Submarine on multiple occasions in the past. Hopefully, they can use that experience to dominate the game tonight.
Martin Odegaard is fit again and gets the nod in his preferred number 10 role. Emile Smith Rowe is moved to the left flank, which isn’t an unfamiliar position for him. He dominated Tottenham from that position, and it won’t be a surprise to see him do the same again this evening.
No surprises on the right flank as Bukayo Saka keeps his place.
There, however, is a huge surprise up front. It looks like Nicolas Pepe will be leading the line ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli who are all on the bench.
Arsenal XI vs Villarreal: Bernd Leno; Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Pablo Mari, Granit Xhaka; Thomas Partey, Dani Ceballos; Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe; Nicolas Pepe
Arsenal substitutes: Maty Ryan, Arthur Okonkwo, Hector Bellerín, Gabriel Magalhaes, David Luiz, Cedric Soares, Mohamed Elneny, Reiss Nelson, Willian, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah
Come On You Gunners!