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Villarreal vs Arsenal Europa League preview: where to watch, team news, predictions

Where to watch, team news and expert predictions for the semi-final first leg.

UEFA.com

Villarreal face Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg on 29 April at 21:00 CET.

Villarreal vs Arsenal build-up


Where to watch the game on TV

Fans can find their local UEFA Europa League broadcast partner(s) here.

Route to the semi-finals

Villarreal: Unai Emery is to the manor born in this competition. He led Sevilla to three titles and Villarreal have been the stand-out team in 2020/21, unbeaten in 12 games (W11 D1) thanks in no small part to the twin goal threat of Gerard Moreno and Paco Alcácer. The Yellow Submarine have made light work of Salzburg (4-1), Dynamo Kyiv (4-0) and Tottenham's vanquishers Dinamo Zagreb (3-1) in the knockouts.

Highlights: Slavia Praha 0-4 Arsenal (2 mins)
Highlights: Slavia Praha 0-4 Arsenal (2 mins)

Arsenal: The competition's top scorers have had their issues this season but the European stage has brought the best out of them. Mikel Arteta's charges became only the 11th side to advance from the group stage with a 100% record, and they have negotiated a rocky road through the knockouts. They have seen off Benfica (4-3), Olympiacos (3-2) and a Slavia Praha team (5-1) that had already claimed the scalps of Leicester and Rangers.

Form guide

Villarreal
Form: LLWWLW
Latest: Villarreal 1-2 Barcelona, 25/04
Where they stand: 7th in Liga

Unai Emery's amazing semi-final record
Unai Emery's amazing semi-final record

Arsenal
Form: LDWWDL
Latest: Arsenal 0-1 Everton, 23/04
Where they stand: 10th in Premier League

Line-ups

Villarreal: Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Pedraza; Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros; Gerard Moreno, Alcácer, Chukwueze

Arsenal: Leno; Chambers, Holding, Pablo Marí; Smith Rowe, Ceballos, Partey, Xhaka, Saka; Ødegaard; Pépé

Watch superb Saka strike for Arsenal
Watch superb Saka strike for Arsenal

Expert predictions

Graham Hunter, Villarreal reporter: Villarreal are just starting to look a little weary. Their difficulties at home in the Liga continue (just one at El Madrigal since early January) but the UEFA Europa League always puts a spring in their step. The fact that it's Arsenal, Villarreal's conquerors in the 2006 UEFA Champions League semi-finals, is added incentive to 'produce'. Gerard Moreno, in his best ever season, remains key but time for a truly star turn from the mighty Dani Parejo.

Samantha Miller, Arsenal reporter: Arsenal have the attacking prowess and firepower up top to go all the way and, with the likes of precocious pair Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, they possess a creative spark. They have shown they have versatility to deal with injury problems, and the emphatic display in the second leg against Slavia Praha in the quarter-finals put down a marker.

View from the camps

Highlights: Villarreal 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb (2 mins)
Highlights: Villarreal 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb (2 mins)

Unai Emery, Villarreal coach: "[My time at Arsenal is] behind me. I have to be grateful to Arsenal. I remember the good stuff. [Mikel] Arteta and Arsenal are a perfect marriage. He’s a great manager. You can see a clear identity, a clear strategy. They have top quality players: [Dani] Ceballos, [Martin] Ødegaard, [Bukayo] Saka, quick players like [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and a solid defence. It’s going to be a demanding match. They have many different gameplans and we need to be ready."

Mikel Arteta, Arsenal coach: "[I'm] extremely excited to travel to the game and play the tie. We have a tough opponent in front of us but we really want to be there. [Villarreal's] progress over the last ten to 15 years has been spectacular, with different coaches but clear principles. Unai has given them a very clear identity in this competition. What I have seen the most is the clarity in their ideas: what they do with the ball and without the ball. They have players who can decide a match at any time, and can change formation during matches."