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UEFA Europa League Semi-Finals Preview

The Arsenal will look to come away from Spain with a positive result against Villarreal

The UEFA Europa League turns the lights on brightly yet again this Thursday night.

Tournament favourites, Manchester United, have shown solid performances in the Europa League since dropping out of the Champions League group stages, and with it, brought millions of viewers. You can be sure as ever that the footballing world will have their eyes glued to the screen when they take the field against the tournaments 6/1 underdogs, AS Roma.

Arsenal slammed Slavia Praha out of the tournament in a 4-0 demolishing away in the Czech Republic by a focused and highly motivated Mikel Arteta team, but have struggled to put a good account of themselves in their domestic escapade. The Gunners travel to Villarreal’s de la Ceramica to face ex-boss Unai Emery and his Yellow Submarines who are undefeated in the tournament this season.

Let’s cut straight to these mouth-watering and historic fixtures!

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Thursday 29 April

Manchester United 6/10
Draw 3/1
AS Roma 44/10
(21:00)

Manchester United play host at the infamous Old Trafford to the only Italian team left in UEFA’s European football.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils have conceded one goal in their run to the semi-finals in a 1-1 home draw against AC Milan. The Manchester outfit are still without long-term absentee Phil Jones, as well as Anthony Martial, who is out for the remainder of the season recovering from a knee-injury. On the positive side, Eric Bailey is back in training after testing positive for COVID-19 in the last international break, as well as Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, and Scott McTominay back from suspension.

AS Roma come into this match on a bad run of form in their domestic league and have just one win in their last five games and sit seventh on the league table. However, La Lupa have been almost invincible in the Europa League, losing once, drawing twice, and winning nine, with the league’s top goal scorer Borja Mayoral scoring seven and assisting two in his 12 matches played.

Paulo Fonseca has a lengthy list of absentees such as, left-back Leonardo Spinazzola, star attacking player Stephan El Shaarawy, as well as Marash Kumbulla, and wonderkid Nicolo Zaniolo who’s out with an ACL injury for the rest of the season.

The storyline building is two ex-Manchester United players looking to make a possible start against their previous employers, in Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Chris Smalling, but Smalling is doubtful after picking up a knock. I suggest backing the hosts and tournament favourites Man United, to take home the win in this first of two encounters and Under 3.5 Goals at 13/10.

Villarreal 15/10
Draw 23/10
Arsenal 18/10
(21:00)

Villarreal boast the best defense in the Europa League this campaign under the league’s most decorated manager, Unai Emery, who is undefeated in this season’s competition having only conceded seven goals

The Yellow Submarines also have attacking player, Gerard Moreno, who currently sits on six goals and is vying for the golden boot of the tournament. The Spanish team is without 33-year old veteran midfielder, Vicente Iborra, but Emery will be delighted to welcome back first-choice left-back, Pervis Estupinan.

Arsenal have had a topsy-turvy season, but the Europa League has been their saving grace. Mikel Arteta has charged forward in the competition and has been rewarded with the Gunners being the top scoring team on 32 goals, with a 2.67 average goals per game.

The flaw in this meeting is Arteta’s list of injuries, which are key figure heads in the squad such as Scottish left-back Kieran Tierney, Champions League winning David Luiz, and most importantly club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and the club’s top scorer this season Alexander Lacazette.

Villarreal have never beaten Arsenal in the teams’ last four meetings, which took place in the UEFA Champions League. Arsenal defeated Villarreal twice without conceding and drew the other two fixtures. The Arsenal victory at 18/10 is the juiciest straight win on paper, but having faith in the Gunners is foolish,  Double Chance Arsenal/Draw at 5/10 sits well with me.

DOUBLE @ 3/1
Manchester United Win & Under 3.5 Goals 13/10
Arsenal Win/Draw 5/10

Written by Joshua Gaillard