Arsenal welcome Villarreal for the second leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday. Already trailing in the tie, how will Mikel Arteta setup his team for this game?
The Gunners notched up a dominant win against Newcastle United over the weekend. It is a result that bodes well for the midweek game where the North Londoners have to get a win to advance to the Europa League finals.
A key talking point from Sunday was the return of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The captain got a goal and looked sharper than he has been in recent weeks. With the forward in such form, Arteta will be confident of taking the tie away from the visitors.
The hosts will start the game in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Bernd Leno returning to goal. We may get to see a couple of changes in defence from Sunday. Calum Chambers will come in place of Hector Bellerin as the right back. Given that there is doubt over whether Kieran Tierney will start, Granit Xhaka starts at left back. Rob Holding would be the other change replacing David Luiz and the Englishman will be partnering Gabriel.
Thomas Partey makes his return to the starting eleven in place of the suspended Dani Ceballos. The Ghanaian will have a different partner this week as Mohamed Elneny lines up next to him. Both will have a huge task on their hands to prevent Villarreal from breaking through the lines.
After making changes for the weekend, we can expect to see Arteta return to the trio that played in the first leg. Emile Smith-Rowe will start in a central role and will have Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe flanking him. A lot of the hosts’ attacks will develop through these three and they will have to be at the top of their game.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will start as the striker for Arsenal. The captain has the ability to finish off the chances that are created. The Gunners need to score to stay in the tie and the onus will be on the forward to deliver. It will be tough for the North Londoners to reach the final, but they should be up to the task.
Arsenal Starting XI Against Villarreal (4-2-3-1):
Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Gabriel, Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
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