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Arsenal have been far from consistent, both in their recent form and in their knockout run in this competition as they’re yet to win both legs of a tie.
This seems like the last role of the dice for Mikel Arteta in a bid to qualify for European football next season, with his side currently down in 10th in the Premier League, 12 points off Chelsea in fourth and seven points behind North London rivals Spurs in 7th.
Villarreal have been something of a Jekyll and Hyde team this year, with their domestic form taking a massive knock. Indeed, they’ve won just four of their last 15 league outings to leave them in seventh place in La Liga, with Granada not too far behind either so they may have a struggle on their hands to qualify by those means.
However, they’re a different animal in the Europa League and have won 11 of their 12 unbeaten matches so far and have been particularly impressive on home soil as they’ve won all six outings and scored at least twice in each of them, and it’s difficult to argue that’s not down to Unai Emery.
Villarreal To Beat Arsenal
The former Arsenal manager will be relishing the opportunity to face his former club and successor in this tie, and with his particular Europa League record it looks like this could be a tall order for the Gunners.
Emery has reached the final in each of his last four attempts in this competition going back to when his Valencia side got dumped out at this stage by Atletico Madrid in 2011/12.
Three of those four final runs saw him go on to win the competition, with the other coming in his spell in charge of the London side as they went down 4-1 to Chelsea in 2018/19.
That takes his recent record to W38-D6-L6 from his last 50 games in this competition (not including their 3-0 gifted win over Qarabag this year) and he’ll be more intent than ever on improving that on Thursday night.
Gerard Moreno To Score Anytime
Arsenal’s lack of consistency makes the hosts look like good value on the 1x2 market, though at a similar price it looks worth getting behind Gerard Moreno in the goalscorer market as well.
The Spaniard is a hot prospect in Europe for his form this year, with Leicester very much in for the 29-year-old who has 19 goals in 22 appearances in 2021.
That includes six from as many games in the knockout stages of this competition, and with Arsenal never far away from a defensive error, he looks well priced to snaffle up an opportunity, especially considering he would also be on penalty duties.