Robert Pires has tipped Villarreal to beat Arsenal when both teams meet in the Europa League on Thursday.
The Gunners beat Slavia Prague to set up a date with their former manager, Unai Emery’s side.
The Spaniard has a good record in the competition and he even helped Arsenal to reach the final in 2019 before getting sacked.
He is now managing Villarreal and is determined to take them to the final also, with Arsenal standing in his way.
Pires played for both clubs and spoke about the game with Spanish paper, AS.
He said the match would be a close one and even gave each team a 50-50 chance of winning.
However, when pressed on who he thought would win the game, he chose Villarreal because they are being managed by Emery.
Pires told AS: ‘I have been lucky enough to play for two great teams, such as Arsenal and Villarreal. I was lucky to have the affection of the people and the two clubs, so seeing them now face each other in a semi-final is something special. It makes me feel strange.
‘I see the situation at Arsenal with sadness, I speak with Arteta and I see that it has not been an easy year. What can save them is to win this Europa League and thus play the Champions League next year.
‘It is difficult to give a favorite for the semi-final. I would say it is 50-50. It is difficult to get it right. I think Villarreal has an advantage because they have Emery, a coach who has done very well in that competition.
‘It doesn’t surprise me at all that Villarreal is back in a semi-final. We all know the Villarreal project, its president and his idea. What I like the most is that it is a team that has a clear idea, that they like to play good football and that is something that I and the football people like.
‘Everyone knows that if you go to see Villarreal, you are going to see a good team, a team with very good players and that it will surely complicate things for Arsenal.’
Emery will want to show Arsenal that they were wrong to fire him, but the Gunners cannot afford to exit the competition at this stage.