Arsenal are in Spain as they put in their final preparations for tonight’s Europa League semi-final clash with Villarreal.
A lot of the focus of tonight’s match has been on the managers, with Mikel Arteta having been chosen as the man to replace Unai Emery in North London just under 18 months ago.
The fans grew frustrated with the way things were being handled, and Unai was claimed to have lost the dressing room, with the Express, going as far as to say he lost hope in his players, which ultimately cost him his job.
No matter your thoughts on the managers, today’s result will ultimately come down to the players that perform on the pitch, although they will have been prepped for the clash by their managers of course.
Neither team is coming into this clash on the back of a win. As matter of fact, they both come into this game on the back of a loss, or in the Spanish side’s case, two straight losses.
In fact, neither side has been at their most consistent this season, but that hasn’t stopped them from performing in this competition.
This has all the makings of an open encounter, in which both sides will fancy their chances. Emery’s backers will point to his European experience, having led Arsenal to the final of the competition, as well as winning each of the 2013-14, 2014-15 & 2015-16 editions with Seville.
All of this will count for nothing when the teams set foot on the pitch however, and predicting which way this fixture will go is extremely difficult.
I have plenty of moments when my head tells me one thing, and my heart another, but I don’t feel confused in that way at present.
I feel like Arteta will set his team up to keep things tight this evening, in order to stop Emery’s side earning an advantage to take into the second-leg, although I strongly hope that I’m wrong.
I think if the manager can overlook the occasion and task the team play their game, we could take a win back to the Emirates, but my feeling is that this will be a cagey encounter.
I’m going with a 1-1 scoreline, in a match where Arsenal are tasked not to press the occasion.
How do you see this match playing out?