Villarreal vs Arsenal: Unai Emery can avenge sacking by denying Gunners European football

It’s almost a year and a half since Unai Emery was sacked by Arsenal. This week, the Spaniard could have his revenge by ending the club’s 25 year run in European football.

When: Thursday, April 29, 20:00 GMT

How to watch: BT Sport

Follow this game live via our score centre

Best Bets

Villarreal to win at 6/4 (bet365)

Both teams to score at 4/5 (William Hill)

Gerard Moreno to score first at 11/10 (SkyBet)

Unai Emery took Arsenal to the Europa League final in 2019 - where they lost to Chelsea.
Unai Emery took Arsenal to the Europa League final in 2019 - where they lost to Chelsea.

Clueless. Fraud. Clown.

Those are just some of the terms that Arsenal fans used towards Unai Emery during the end of his managerial run at the Emirates.

When Mikel Arteta took over, he enjoyed quick success by winning the FA Cup. However, things have gone downhill since then and Arsenal are on the brink of missing out on a European competition for the first time since 1996.

Poor results have seen Arsenal drop to tenth in the Premier League
Poor results have seen Arsenal drop to tenth in the Premier League

Their only hope of qualifying for a European tournament next season, is to win the Europa League. But one man in their way is the same man who they sacked 18 months ago… Unai Emery.

The Spaniard has enjoyed a great season with Villarreal and his men will be just as desperate to bag a place in the Europa League final.

Last Three Matches

Arsenal 3-0 Villarreal (Champions League - April 15, 2009)

When these two clubs last met, their encounter took place in the Champions League quarter-finals back in 2009.

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Theo Walcott, Emanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie scored the goals as Arsene Wenger's men stormed to the semi-finals in style.

It was a painful defeat for Manuel Pellegrini's side who went down to 10-men in the 67th minute following the dismissal of Sebastian Eguren.

Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal (Champions League - April 7, 2009)

It was a much closer contest when the two sides met in the opening leg of the aforementioned quarter-final.

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Marcos Senna delievered the opener as Villarreal took the lead in the 10th minute. Things then got worse for Arsenal as goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski had to be replaced by Manuel Almunia on the half-hour mark.

Nevertheless, the Gunners found their feet and an equaliser from Emanuel Adebayor put Wenger's men in a great position ahead of the rematch in London.

Villarreal 0-0 Arsenal (Champions League - April 25, 2006)

The scoreline may not look very inciting but any Arsenal fan above the age of 23 will remember this as one of the most nerve-wracking games in the club's recent history.

This was the second-leg of a Champions League semi-final and the Gunners arrived with a slender 1-0 lead.

The home side totally dominated proceedings but they simply couldn't find a breakthrough.

In the last minute of the game, Villarreal were awarded a penalty however, Juan Riquelme was denied by Jens Lehmann. The save took Arsenal to the Champions League final which ended in heartbreak as Barcelona lifted the trophy. 

Last four head-to-head games

Arsenal wins: 2

Draws: 2

Villarreal wins: 0

Arsenal goals: 5

Villarreal goals: 1

Lack of consistency can hinder Gunners

Arsenal come into this semi-final having won just two of their last six games across all competitions.

A clear lack of consistency has been a major problem for Mikel Arteta's men and it could cost them a place in Europe next season.

Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta
Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta

Following their 1-0 defeat to Everton last weekend, the Gunners have dropped to tenth in the Premier League table.

One positive for Arteta is that his side tend to perform well on the road. Arsenal are unbeaten in seven straight away games - four of those victories.

Villarreal have the tools to hit where it hurts

Unai Emery's side have lost three from their last five games. However, they did go on a run of six straight victories before that.

Villarreal trying to stop Lionel Messi last weekend
Villarreal trying to stop Lionel Messi last weekend

The three defeats they suffered all came by the 2-1 scoreline and one of them was against the in-form Barcelona.

Villarreal have scored at least one goal in 12 successive games and they'll certainly capable of keeping that run going against Arsenal.

Goalscorer bets

The home side are likely to test Arsenal's defence and one man who will do that better than anyone is Gerard Moreno. The forward has opened the scoring in four of the last five Europa League games he's played in.

Villarreal's forward Gerard Moreno
Villarreal's forward Gerard Moreno

From an Arsenal point-of-view, Nicolas Pepe is the man who could give the Gunners hope.

The player has bagged five goals in the competition this year and has proved to be a real threat in the scoring department.

He is currently priced at 11/4 to score anytime with PaddyPower.

READ MORE: Riyad Mahrez's most iconic moments for club and country...

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