Arsenal take on Villarreal tonight after losing 2-1 in the first leg.
Unai Emery had his laugh in Spain last week, but it’s now time for Mikel Arteta to show what he’s got against the most successful manager in the history of the Europa League.
Arsenal simply have to win tonight. There are absolutely no excuses and anything but a positive result will end our season and it could well cost Arteta his job after what has been a shocking campaign.
The Spaniard has to get his team right and thankfully for him, there’s some good news on the injury front.
Kieran Tierney and Alexandre Lacazette have both trained with the first team, along with David Luiz who seems to have made a swift recovery from his hamstring problem.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played 78 minutes on Sunday and admitted yesterday that he is fit to start. That gives Arsenal all the firepower necessary to knock Emery’s Villarreal out of the competition.
Predicted Arsenal XI vs Villarreal
Bernd Leno is expected to return in goal after sitting out on Sunday. The German is one of the biggest reasons why we are still alive in the tie. He will have to be at his best again for us to have any chance of going through.
Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari will likely start again after getting a breather on Sunday. Luiz, who seems to have recovered miraculously, is expected to start too, and the Brazilian’s leadership at the back will be key.
The big news in defence is the return of Tierney. We’ve missed the Scotsman dearly over the last few weeks, but now that he’s back fit, he has to start, and that is a huge boost for Arsenal in what is our biggest game of the season.
Granit Xhaka returns to his preferred central midfield role alongside Thomas Partey. Neither player had a great game last week, but if we are to win tonight, they will have to perform at their highest level.
Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard keep their places in the squad. Last week’s goalscorer Nicolas Pepe and Sunday’s man of the match Gabriel Martinelli both miss out as Emile Smith Rowe will likely start on the left flank.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored against Newcastle on Sunday and that would’ve given him a ton of confidence. He looked ready to go in his press conference yesterday and he is a guaranteed starter against his former boss at the Emirates tonight.
Alexandre Lacaztte is expected to make the bench and he’ll be joined by the likes of Willian, Pepe and Martinelli.