Manuel Veth –
Arsenal vs Valencia – Thursday, May 2, 20:00BST/21:00CEST – Arsenal Stadium, London, England
Arsenal are once again taking part in the later stages of the Europa League. Last season the Gunners were defeated by Spanish side Altético Madrid in the semifinals of the Europa League, which ultimately cost Arsenal their Champions League ticket.
A Champions League ticket could be once again on the line this season. The Gunners are currently in fifth place in the English Premier League two points behind Chelsea. Hence, once again the Europa League could be the club’s last chance to qualify for the Champions League.
In fact, Arsenal need Champions League football to remain competitive in England. Past examples have highlighted that once a club drops out of the Champions League, it is a long path back to the world’s biggest club competition.
The path to Baku, however, will not be easy. In Valencia, in fact, Arsenal face a tough opponent. Furthermore, the Spanish side are currently sixth in La Liga and like it is the case for Arsenal the final in Baku could is a good backup option to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
Valencia, however, have struggled in recent weeks. Los Ches dropped three points against Atlético Madrid and SD Eibar. As a result, Arsenal should be favourites to win the first leg at home at the Arsenal Stadium.
At the same time, however, Spanish opponents have always done well in this competition, and Marcelino has promised that his side “will match Arsenal’s desire,” in their attempt to go through to the next round.
Arsenal vs Valencia – Players to look out for:
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang #14 – Arsenal
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cannot be blamed for Arsenal’s league position. Signed from Dortmund in January 2018 the forward has scored 19 goals in 34 EPL games this season and four goals in nine Europa League games. Furthermore, Emery has recently opted to start Aubameyang together with Alexandre Lacazette, which has made Arsenal’s attack a bit less predictable — even if the latest result against Leicester was a disappointment.
Gonçalo Guedes #7 – Valencia
Valencia signed Gonçalo Guedes on a free loan deal last in the summer of 2017 from Paris Saint-Germain. The transfer was then made permanent last summer in a deal that all together is worth €40 million and somewhat rescued PSG’s transfer budget. Guedes will not cost Valencia a single cent as the club managed to negotiate a deal that will see the Spaniards pay off the transfer sum in smaller junks spread over several years. On the pitch Guedes has been a good asset for Valencia, the Portuguese winger has scored eight goals and three assists in 33 competitive games this season.
Arsenal vs Valencia – Match Stats
- The clubs have been paired together in UEFA competition on three previous occasions, Valencia coming out on top each time.
- Arsenal have won only ten of their 33 UEFA fixtures against Spanish opposition, their 15 defeats including three in finals – against Valencia in 1979/80, Zaragoza in the 1994/95 European Cup Winners’ Cup and Barcelona in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League.
- At home their record is W8 D4 L3, though they are without a victory in the last two games, a 0-2 defeat by Barcelona in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League round of 16 preceding a 1-1 draw against Atlético in the first leg of last season’s UEFA Europa League semi-final.
- The Gunners have lost their last four two-legged ties against Liga sides, having won each of the four prior to that sequence.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Arsenal vs Valencia – 1-1
Arsenal vs Valencia – Lineups
Cech – Monreal, Koscielny, Sokratis – Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles – Ramsey – Lacazette, Aubameyang
Head Coach: Unai Emery
Neto – Lato, Diakhaby, Roncaglia, Wass – Guedes, Soler, Parejo, Torres – Mina, Gameiro
Head Coach: Marcelino
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.