Predicted XI

How Arsenal could line up against Villarreal in the Europa League

Mikel Arteta's side will face former head coach Unai Emery's outfit as underdogs despite a seven-game unbeaten away run

12:40pm on Wednesday 28th April 2021
James Shearman

Arsenal face former boss Unai Emery in the Europa League semi-final as Mikel Arteta's side travel to Villarreal for the first leg in the last four.

The Gunners could be handed a boost going into the match with a trio of players in line to make returns.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette will provide more options in attack, while Kieran Tierney's comeback - months earlier than at first feared - will help to solve Arsenal's full-back crisis.

Bernd Leno is expected to start on Thursday despite making a shocking error that gave Everton the goal in their 1-0 defeat on Friday.

Calum Chambers could be favoured at right-back as the more defensively sound choice for the away game, with Kieran Tierney in line to return at left-back.

A centre-back partnership of Pablo Mari and Rob Holding has been Arteta's go-to of late, leaving summer signing Gabriel on the bench.

Granit Xhaka can return to midfield after a brief spell at left-back alongside the so-far underwhelming Thomas Partey.

Bukayo Saka keeps his place in the team. The 19-year-old was recently named Young Player of the Year at the London Football Awards 2021.

Emile Smith-Rowe has reclaimed his place after loan signing Martin Odegaard kept him out for a while.

Nicolas Pepe played in Arsenal's 4-0 win over Slavia Prague to reach this stage, so remains ahead of the returning Aubameyang and youngster Gabriel Martinelli for now, with the club captain not yet believed to be fully fit.

Lacazette should lead the line at Estadio de la Ceramica as the Gunners' top scorer this season takes the place of Eddie Nketiah.

Arsenal predicted XI against Villarreal

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