Mikel Arteta has urged his players to embrace the challenge, as they welcome Villarreal to the Emirates on Thursday in the second-leg of the Europa League semifinal.
The North London club started the first leg in a disastrous fashion as they conceded two goals in the first 30 minutes. They got one back in the second half to make it 2-1 for the night. The score-line doesn’t look too bad as they play at home on Thursday.
However, Arsenal have failed to register a win at the Emirates in their last two Europa League knock-out ties, losing against Olympiacos and drawing with Slavia Prague. So, the Gunners will have to be at their absolute best to pull off a win.
Ahead of the game, Mikel Arteta has issued a rallying call to his team to utilize the opportunity of playing in a European semi-finals. He is quoted by the official website as saying:
“We have to embrace the challenge and the opportunity we have ahead. I think it’s the 10th time that the club has been in a European semi-final, so it doesn’t happen very often. We have to take the opportunity tomorrow and earn the right to be in the final.”
The boss was also asked about the importance of the game as it is one that has the potential to change the course of the club’s season. He added:
“It’s a big moment. Not for me, but for the club and for everything that has happened in the last two years and the last months. All the instability that we’ve been living with for many different reasons. So, I think it will be really important and a big step forward if we are able to be in that final and have the opportunity to win that trophy.”
Despite being one game away from the Europa League final, this has been a disappointing season. The North Londoners got knocked out of both domestic cups early on and find themselves right in the middle of the Premier League table. They are out of the race for Champions League places and the Europa League is the only way they could return to Europe’s elite competition.
If they were to beat Villarreal and somehow manage to win the final, they will be back in UCL. This will be a significant boost financially as well as to the stature of the club. Getting the better of the Yellow Submarines will not be easy, but as the boss said, the players need to embrace the challenge.
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