As I have done In the previous rounds of the Europa League, to get us in the mood I thought I would break down ‘who are Villarreal?’
Known as the ‘Yellow Submarine’, the club were founded in 1923. They spent most of that time in the lower divisions, only debuting in La Liga as recently as 1998.
They are yet to win a major honour and only debuted in UFFA competition as recently as 2003 (not counting the intertoto cup)
10- Record against Arsenal
There win over us last week was their first at their 5th attempt.
The two teams played over two legs twice in the Champions League. In 2009 we drew 1-1 in Spain, followed up by a 3-0 win in London.
More famously in 2006 we won 1-0 in the last ever European game at Highbury, a 0-0 draw then put us in our first and only Champions League Final.
9- Lucky Omen
The Gunners have only been in the final 4 of the Champions League twice. In both seasons that happened they knocked out Villarreal. In 2009 we drew 1-1, followed by a 3-0 victory at the Emirates.
One of our most famous European nights came in 2006 at El Madrigal where with seconds left, Raquel had a penalty saved by Jens Lehmann meaning a 0-0 draw put us in our only Champions League Final
8 – record Against the English
This Thursday will be Villarreal’s 17th official match against English opposition.
Last week was only their 5th win. They drew 6 and lost the other .
7 – Record in England
Perhaps crucially the Spaniards have only once won in England in six attempts. Their 2-1 win at Everton in 2005 was also one of only two nights they scored on English soil.
They have lost twice to us (1-0 and 3-0) had a couple of stalemates at Old Trafford, conceded 3 at Anfield and most recently lost 2-1 at the Etihad.
6 – Semi Final Record
Not including the Intertoto Cup this will be Villarreal’s 4th attempt at winning a UEFA semi-Final.
On the other three occasions they twice managed a positive result from the first leg.
In 2004 they held Valencia 0-0 at home but lost away 1-0.
In 2016 they beat Liverpool 1-0 but lost at Anfield 3-0.
So a positive result at the Emirates would be their greatest success in their European history.
5- Who played For Both?
Currently former Gunner Coquelin plays for Villarreal.
Santi Cazorla is considered a cult hero for both.
We equally purchased Gabriel Paulista from the Spanish club.
Pires ended up returning to the Emirates in the yellow kit for a Champions League tie.
We loaned Denis Suarez from Barcelona based on his form at Villarreal.
4- Unai Emery In Europa
It’s well documented our former managers record in the UEFA and Europa League.
He’s targeting an unprecedented 5th appearance in the Final.
This is the third time he has had to knock out a former employer, twice knocking out Valencia when in charge of Arsenal and Sevilla.
3- Arsenal in Semi Finals
Here is a worrying stat ….
This is our 10th semi-final in Europe. We have never over turned a first leg defeat…
2- Arsenal at home to Spanish opposition
Barcelona are the only Spanish side to have won at the Emirates on one occasion.
The only Spanish side to win at Highbury were Deportivo.
So since 1980, we have only lost two home games against Spanish teams
Mallorca, Valencia, Celta Vigo, Real Madrid, Villarreal and Atletico Madrid all failed to win in North London.
1- Arteta’s First Full Season
Mikel Arteta is aiming to lift the Europa League in his first full season as manager.
The last man to do that was Andre Villas-Boas when Porto beat Braga 1-0 in the 2011 Final.
These are the only two managers to do that since the UEFA Cup became a single game format in 1998.
Hopefully, next time I write an article it’s not all doom and gloom
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