Arsenal will be weary of the threat posed by Unai Emery’s Villarreal side this evening, but their efforts could well be boosted by some key players returning ahead of tonight’s Europa League semi-final.
Manager Mikel Arteta admitted that all of his recently-abcent players are in contention to play this evening, although the condition of some of those will of course need to be monitored.
David Luiz returned to full training earlier in the week, and he appears to be the most likely to make the starting line-up after a small procedure on his knee earlier in the month.
Kieran Tierney was also struggling with his own knee issue, and while the fitness team will be working overtime to try and prepare him for today’s clash, I feel like we may be pushed for time.
Both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also missed our last match against Everton, and fingers crossed at least one of these is ready to play from kick-off this evening, and I can’t help but believe the former will.
The only player who definitely will not be playing is Alex Runarsson, who is no longer registered for our Europa League squad since he was replaced by Mat Ryan in January.
Predicted Arsenal XI:
Chambers Luiz Gabriel Xhaka
Saka Odegaard Smith Rowe
I’m honestly uncertain on who will get the nod to start in goal today, but I think my selection is more who I would want, as opposed to who Arteta will choose unfortunately.
While we will all be keeping our fingers crossed that Tierney has made a miraculous recovery, I don’t want to see him fall injured again, and him being available for the second-leg could be more important in the long run.
I’m also not 100% sure Odegaard is back fully fit, but if he is, and Aubameyang or Laca doesn’t make it, I’d be surprised if the young trio wasn’t to start in behind the striker. Nicolas Pepe should also be in contention, but I think I prefer him to make an impact off the bench personally.
How do you expect Arsenal to line-up today? Am I alone in thinking/hoping Ryan gets the nod between the sticks?