Arsenal star Nicolas Pepe’s second-half strike from the penalty spot has kept us in the tie against Villarreal. The hosts absolutely battered us before the break, picking up a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Pepe was denied a penalty early on, but Bukayo Saka won a spot-kick later, and the Ivorian converted it brilliantly. Arsenal now have an away goal to count on for the second leg, but it will not be easy.
Villarreal are a very tricky side to beat, mainly due to Unai Emery’s experience in the competition. However, Pepe seems really confident about the game next week, and his seven-word Instagram message to the Spaniards shows exactly that.
That’s a pretty stern message from a guy whose team were battered in the first half last night. However, what Arsenal did in the second half with 10 men on the pitch showed the world that we are more than good enough to knock Emery’s men out of the competition.
Arsenal will be much stronger
For the second leg next week, Arsenal are expected to have Kieran Tierney, Alexandre Lacazette and David Luiz back. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will also be fit to start, while Granit Xhaka can come back to his preferred midfield role.
That should change the game completely. Luiz’s leadership at the back combined with the firepower Auba and Laca bring up front will make us so much stronger than we were without them yesterday.
Tierney playing at left-back and Xhaka returning to his natural position restores the balance as well, which should make us perform a lot better than we did last night. That is not good news for Emery and Villarreal.
Mikel Arteta said last night: ‘If we are us, we will have a chance to win, that’s for sure’. (BT Sport) All we need is a goal and a clean sheet to knock Emery out of the competition, and we are more than capable of doing that next week.
As Pepe said, see you in London, Unai!