After their victory over Napoli in the Europa League quarter-finals, Arsenal now have to prepare for a two-legged semi against Valencia, and they’ll have an old score to settle in Spain.
It’s fair to say Arsenal don’t have a good record against their upcoming Europa League opponents. Valencia won their UEFA European Cup Winners Cup final against the Gunners on penalties in the 1980s, before eliminating them on away goals in the 2000/01 Champions League.
The Spanish side followed that up by beating Arsenal in the 2002/03 Champions League group stage. Overall, it’s one win, one draw and three defeats for the Gunners in the matchup, and no victories away at the Mestalla Stadium.
Given Arsenal’s general away record this season, that may be a difficult stat to change in the semi-final.
Unai Emery’s side did at least get back on track with an away victory over Napoli in the last round, but that result was made significantly more straight-forward by a very positive first leg at the Emirates. It’s likely they’ll have to be similarly impressive at home on this occasion too.
As professional footballers across the country join forces in a social media campaign against racism this week, it’s worth remembering the most disappointing side of Arsenal’s last trip to Valencia.
Thierry Henry suffered racial abuse from the home support that day, so much so that he had to take a stand with Valencia striker John Carew to try and calm them down. This tie is a great opportunity for the Valencia fans to show they’ve learned from that unacceptable event. Let’s hope they do.