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Europa League: Villarreal vs Arsenal: Emery’s day


Villarreal will face Arsenal on Thursday in Unai Emery‘s attempt to lead the Yellow Submarine to the first European final in the club’s history.

The game at the Estadio de la Ceramica will be a special one for the Spanish coach, who will face his former team for the first time since he was sacked in November 2019 after a seven-game winless run.

Emery had previously led Arsenal to the Europa League final in the previous season, but his team were defeated 4-1 by an Eden Hazard-inspired Chelsea.

Arsenal‘s history is known throughout the world,” Emery told UEFA’s media this week.

“I am lucky to have coached there, although it ended in undesired circumstances. Now I am happy where I am, and I appreciate my new job as a coach at Villarreal.”

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The 49-year-old tactician will now try to reach his fifth European final and lead Villarreal to their first.

Villarreal reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2006, but they were defeated 1-0 on aggregate to Arsenal after Juan Roman Riquelme failed to beat Jens Lehmann from the penalty spot in the second leg.

After losing two games in a row against Alaves and Barcelona in LaLiga Santander, Emery will want his side to bounce back against the Gunners.

Gerard Moreno is in top form, but Villarreal will be relying on defensive duo Pau Torres and Raul Albiol to keep a clean sheet ahead of the second leg in England next Thursday.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have struggled in the Premier League, currently sitting 10th in the table, and winning the Europa League trophy could be the only way to secure Champions League qualification for next season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has recovered from malaria, while Alexandre Lacazette could start at the La Ceramica after struggling with a hamstring injury.

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Arteta’s bad memories against Villarreal

The current Arsenal coach faced Villarreal as an Everton player in the Champions League qualifiers back in 2005, when the Spanish side grabbed a 2-1 win in the first leg at Goodison Park.

In the return leg, Juan Pablo Sorin opened the scoring for Villarreal, but Arteta equalised with a direct free kick.

With the score at 1-1, Italian referee Pierluigi Collina disallowed a goal that came from a corner kick taken by Arteta, and Villarreal netted a second through Diego Forlan to go through.





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