So the big day arrives, and if Arsenal do not win through tonight we can be assured that we will be watching Thursday night football yet again next season (for the third season running!). But we have every reason to be positive after beating Valencia 3-1 at the Emirates, and we should have many fresh players after Emery’s rotations again last weekend.
But we must be aware that Valencia are no pushovers at home, and have won their last 7 Europa League games on home territory, and also beat Man United and Young Boys at home in the Champions League Group stages. but let us look at their Europa games so far this season….
All wins as I said, but it is worth noting that they haven’t scored more than two goals in any of them, which they would have to do tonight to have a real chance of going through, especially if Arsenal manage a consolation. Even the win over United was only 2-1…
But Arsenal’s away form leaves a lot to be desired as well, even in the Europa we lost to both Rennes and BATE before our win over Napoli. In fact, in our last 16 away games, we have won one FA cup game (Blackpool) and 2 League games (Watford and Huddersfield) and our win at Napoli. Hardly awe inspiring!
The Boss Unai Emery is well aware that we are not going to have it easy at his old club, he told Arsenal.com yesterday: “Good evening. For us, it’s the same message as when we played the first leg in London. We are in a 50/50 for two teams and after the first leg, the result has not changed my ideas. Tomorrow is going to be very difficult here and we can take some examples, not just yesterday but also in the past. But knowing it is difficult here, we are going to play with all our ambition, with full motivation and the preparation needs to be good for this match.
“Our idea is to play the match, thinking to win. After, you want to win then you need to score. Also, how they consider you to do some attacks with the possibility to score because they are a very organised team and their structure is very strong defensively. But also they need to score. They have attacking players with big qualities, combinations and the possibility to score here tomorrow. Our idea is to do both: be defensively strong and offensively, take our chances. Above all, I think it depends how we are on the pitch tomorrow. The 90 minutes can be long and there can be moments for our attack and their attack. We need to be solid and most importantly control the match tomorrow.”
One thing we can be sure of is that Emery will have the very best team available to him on the pitch tonight. He won’t drop Cech through loyalty and promises, but his outfield ten must certainly include Torreira in midfield, Aubameyang and Lacazette in attack, and Sokratis and Koscielny in defence.
I think he will start with a defensive line up to see if we can get to half time without conceding, so I am suggesting the starting XI tonight as….
Maitland Niles.. Xhaka.. Torreira.. Kolasinac
That will leave Guendouzi, Ozil and Iwobi on the bench waiting to mix things up if we get nervous, but I am sure one of our strikers will get an opportune goal to put our minds at rest.
My Score Prediction 2-1 to Valencia but we go on to the Final…
If you think that I am correct in my prediction of 2-1, then you should take the 11/2 available from BetUK.
But if you are feeling very brave then how about a replay of our last leg at Napoli. 0-1 to Arsenal is a very juicy 11-1, and we will all go home happy!
Obviously the favourite way for Arsenal to go is to park the bus and frustrate Valencia for the whole 90 minutes, so maybe the 12/1 on 0-0 from BetUK would make a boring game very exciting!
BetUK’s Price Boost for tonight’s game is Aubameyang to score first and Arsenal to win at 9/1. Fingers crossed!