Arsenal legend Ian Wright believes that his former club will beat Villarreal tomorrow because of a mistake Unai Emery made in the first leg last week.
The Yellow Submarine were clearly the better side in Spain six days ago. They battered us in the first half by scoring twice in the first 30 minutes, and almost every Arsenal fan feared the worst at that point.
Mikel Arteta’s men were there for the taking last week but Emery, surprisingly, decided not to go for the kill. He brought on Francis Coquelin, a defensive midfielder, in place of his striker Paco Alcacer.
Wright believes that Emery’s half-time substitution in the first half will ‘come back to bite him’ tomorrow, and that is why Arsenal will beat them and go through to the final.
He said on Wrighty’s House podcast: “The change he made, bringing on Coquelin and taking the striker off, made me say: ‘okay, that’s one of the reasons as well why you moved on. You didn’t go and push forward and finish an Arsenal side that was there for the taking’.
“I think Unai’s Coquelin substitution when they were flying, that has to come back to bite him. It’s something that he’s always done and it has cost him and I think that was our way back in. They should’ve finished us and they didn’t, that’s why I think we’re going to beat them.”
The Insider’s View:
Wrighty’s spot on. We discussed this exact point after the first leg (read here) and that has been a common theme with Emery. That was why he faced the sack at Arsenal, and that could be why Arteta and co can inflict some pain on him tomorrow.
If the Emery we all know turns up tomorrow, Villarreal will come to the Emirates to defend their lead – not go for the win. That negative mentality is never ideal in such a big game, and that should play right into our hands.
Arsenal have no choice but to go for it from the first whistle. Our entire season and possibly Arteta’s future depends on the game tomorrow. Emery would love nothing more than to knock us out, but if we play to our full potential, we should be able to beat them quite comfortably.