The Spanish side ended up victorious in the first leg of the Europa League semi-finals.
Villarreal stunned Arsenal 2-1 in the first leg of the Europa League semi-finals. The home side went quickly upfront after Trigueros found the back of the nets before Raul Albiol doubled the lead at the half-hour mark. Arsenal managed to reply only in the 73rd minute through Nicolas Pepe when both sides played with a man down. Here are the four talking points.
Arsenal as a team performed poorly
It was evident from the very beginning that Arsenal lacked the intensity and ambition to be ahead of their opponents. Despite the presence of young stars like Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard and so on, the Gunners never intended to threaten the Spanish side for the more significant parts of the game. Furthermore, the inefficiency in the final third affected them, while Pepe playing in the left-wing wasn’t helping them either.
But its Leno, Pepe and Saka, who kept Arsenal in Europa League contest.
Bukayo Saka: "It’s a semi-final of the Europa League so to start the game like this, it was impossible to have a chance of scoring. We didn’t create anything, we lost every duel, we were passive. It’s really frustrating to look back on it.” #Arsenal
Angry fans ranted in Social media against the team and specially Dani Ceballos after the Real Madrid loanee was shown red.
Villarreal continue to be the dark horses.
The Yellow Submarine’s road to the semi-finals this season has been stealthy, and they are one step away from reaching their first major European final and, to a greater extent, lifting the title. Blended with the right mix of individual talent and collective quality, Villarreal have managed to raise few eyebrows both in their leagues and European competitions.
Unai Emery remains the king of this competition
Ironically, Unai Emery last won the Europa League title during his time with the Gunners – his current opposition now. The Spanish gaffer is not far away from getting his hands at the title for another time, having done so on many occasions, say two, during his Sevilla regime. The 2-1 advantage looks to be a strong one for Emery and co to make their way into the finals.
Only two teams remain undefeated in European competition this season: ???????????? ????????????????: WWWWDWWWWWW ????????????????????????????????????????: WWWDWWWWWWWWW A reminder that UEL stands for Unai Emery League. #UEL
Mikel Arteta might have hit rock bottom
Mikel Arteta‘s last resort turned out to be the Europa League silverware, but the chances look bleak after tonight’s result. The Spaniard has had enough criticism throughout this season, and the only chance of his survival appears to be if Arsenal turn things around in the second leg.
Arteta: "After the story of the game we have to take it because we are in the tie, we are alive and, with the circumstances that developed during the game, it put the tie in real danger at some stages."
Arsenal Fans are not happy with the proceedings. Omojuwa tweeted: One fan If Unai Emery beats Arteta over the two legs, Arteta has to go with Kroenke. Only fair.
Arsenal secure one away goal advantage
The positives that Arsenal can draw from today’s match, that they had scored one away goal. Former Arsenal manager Freddie Ljungberg thinks Bukayo Saka was ‘clever’ to win a penalty which Pepe converted after they were down to 10-man. This could play a role if Arsenal managed to score early in Emirates next week.