Arsenal can’t be able to finish in the top four this season in the premier league campaign, so the only way they can qualify for the Champions League next season is if they can win the Europa League this time around.
Arsenal having faces fierce Spanish rivals Villarreal twice away from home in Europe but could not come out as winners on both instances.
Arsenal are however going into this game, winning just one out of their 5 games in previous league matches.
Although Villarreal are not in the best of forms either as they go into Thursday’s game having lost three of their last five matches.
The Gunners have a few injury concerns and most happen to be key first-team players so Mikel Arteta will have to rely on a few youngsters to see his team through in the first leg.
Mikel Arteta may have to make do without his two leading strikers for their Europa League semi-final first leg with Villarreal on Thursday evening.
Alexandre Lacazette’s strong run of form came to an end as he suffered a thigh injury against Fulham which is still keeping the Frenchman out while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may only be considered for a spot on the bench after recovering from malaria.
The two youngsters, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli will have to lead the line, and the former is expected to get the nod, although Folarin Balogun – who recently signed a new deal with the club – is another option.
Bukayo Saka is a starting on the right, but Martin Odegaard’s return to fitness could make The Gunners boss start him ahead of Emile Smith Rowe, especially seeing as Nicolas Pepe should not be dropped having registered five goals and four assists in this season’s tournament so far.
Dani Ceballos and Thomas Partey will operate in midfield as Granit Xhaka continues at left-back.
Calum Chambers appears to have reestablished himself as the Gunners’ first-choice right-back over Hector Bellerin and Cedric Soares, while Gabriel Magalhaes could be starting ahead of Pablo Mari.
Bernd Leno’s error gifted Everton all three points at the Emirates last week, but the German is in no danger of losing his place to Mathew Ryan this week.
Arsenal predicted starting XI;
Leno; Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Xhaka; Partey, Ceballos; Saka, Odegaard, Pepe; Nketiah
Kick off: Thursday, 29th April. 20:00(west African time)