UEFA Europa League: Arsenal vs Valencia: preview, line-ups, prediction
Arsenal and Valencia will meet in the Europa League semifinals and determine which of them have enough class to compete for the trophy in such a decisive match.
Arsenal reached the Europa League semifinals last season, but a step before the final, the team lost to Atletico Madrid. This season, the Gunners got the opportunity to correct their mistakes in the battle with another Spanish team – Valencia.
On the way to the semifinals, Unai Emery’s wards confidently won their group, outperformed BATE and Rennes, and at the previous stage, they defeated Napoli without any problems. Valencia started their European campaign in the Champions League, where they failed to qualify from the group with Juventus and Manchester United. In the Europa League playoffs, the Bats alternately went through Celtic, Krasnodar and Villarreal, not having suffered a single defeat.
The teams met each other in European competitions three times. In the 1979/80 Cup Winners’ Cup final, Valencia won a penalty shootout. In the 2000/01 season, the Spanish club outplayed Arsenal in the Champions League quarterfinals. Two years later, the Bats met with the Londoners in the second group round of the Champions League. Valencia played in a draw in London and won the home game, which allowed them to reach the quarterfinals.
For both Arsenal and Valencia, winning the Europa League will be a chance to break through to the Champions League group stage, as they have worsened their position in the national championships with the latest results. Arsenal suffered three defeats in a row and dropped to 5th line in the Premier League standings, 2 points behind Chelsea. 6th-placed Valencia are 3 points behind Getafe and Sevilla 3 rounds before the end of the championship.
Before this meeting, the teams experienced some problems with the composition. Rob Holding, Hector Belerin and Danny Welbeck have long been in the Gunners’ infirmary. Midfielder Aaron Ramsey got injured after the return match against Napoli. Seems like Aaron has already played his last match for Arsenal.
Valencia won’t be able to count on central midfielder Francis Coquelin due to disqualification. Geoffrey Kondogbia and Denis Cheryshev are injured and Cristiano Piccini’s participation remains to be questioned.
Arsenal: Cech — Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolasinac — Torreira, Xhaka — Mkhitaryan, Iwobi — Lacazette, Aubameyang
Valencia: Neto — Diakhaby, Paulista, Roncaglia, Gaya — Torres, Parejo, Wass, Guedes — Rodrigo, Gameiro
Players to note: Torreira, Lacazette — Guedes, Gaya
Time: 20.00 GMT
Venue: Emirates, London
(Reporting by Nathan Dent, editing by Valerie Cooper)