Arsenal host Villarreal in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday, let’s take a look at our predicted lineup for the clash.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on February 21, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by John Walton - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on February 21, 2021. (Photo by John Walton – Pool/Getty Images)

Arsenal have a one-goal deficit to overturn in midweek, as they try to make the Europa League final with a win over Unai Emery’s Villarreal. The Gunners lost 2-1 away from home, meaning a goal and a clean sheet would be enough to go through.

From that perspective, Arsenal had the perfect warm-up for Thursday with a 2-0 win over Newcastle United at the weekend. But it’s sure to be a different game with the pressure on and the knowledge that every goal conceded makes the job much harder.

Dani Ceballos is suspended and there are still a few major injury doubts, but Mikel Arteta will try to go as strong as he can for such a big game. Here’s our Arsenal predicted lineup to face Villarreal.

Goalkeeper

Villarreal CF v Arsenal UEFA Europa League Gerard Moreno shot at goal for Villarreal CF is saved by Bernd Leno of Arsenal during the UEFA Europa League match at Estadio de la Ceramica, Villarreal Copyright: Focus Images
Villarreal CF v Arsenal UEFA Europa League Gerard Moreno shot at goal for Villarreal CF is saved by Bernd Leno of Arsenal during the UEFA Europa League match at Estadio de la Ceramica, Villarreal Copyright: Focus Images

Mat Ryan kept a clean sheet at the weekend, but Bernd Leno will probably come back in for this one. Leno made a vital save in the first leg to keep the tie alive and is still edging the number one goalkeeper spot.

Defence

Newcastle United v Arsenal - Premier League - St James Park Arsenal s Granit Xhaka warming up before the Premier League match at St James Park, Newcastle upon Tyne. Issue date: Sunday May 2, 2021.Copyright: Lindsey Parnaby
Newcastle United v Arsenal – Premier League – St James Park Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka warming up before the Premier League match at St James Park, Newcastle upon Tyne. Issue date: Sunday, May 2, 2021.Copyright: Lindsey Parnaby

The two players Arsenal were hoping might come into the defence and change this game were David Luiz and Kieran Tierney, but it seems both are likely to miss out through injury.

That probably means Granit Xhaka at left-back again, and Rob Holding at right-centre-back. If Holding is starting, it will probably be Pablo Mari alongside him, as Arteta doesn’t often opt for the Gabriel-Holding pairing anymore.

Calum Chambers is also likely to come back in to complete an unchanged back four from the first leg.

Midfield

Newcastle United v Arsenal - Premier League - St James Park Arsenal s Mohamed Elneny celebrates scoring their side s first goal of the game during the Premier League match at St James Park, Newcastle upon Tyne. Issue date: Sunday May 2, 2021. Copyright: Stu Forster
Newcastle United v Arsenal – Premier League – St James Park Arsenal s Mohamed Elneny celebrates scoring their side s first goal of the game during the Premier League match at St James Park, Newcastle upon Tyne. Issue date: Sunday, May 2, 2021. Copyright: Stu Forster

There’s no Dani Ceballos, but without Tierney there’s also not much chance of Xhaka moving into midfield. As a result, Mohamed Elneny will probably start alongside Thomas Partey.

Ahead of them could be Martin Odegaard or Emile Smith Rowe, and it’s a close thing either way. Odegaard finished the week strongly and probably has the edge right now.

Forwards

Newcastle United v Arsenal - Premier League - St James Park Arsenal s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang right scores their side s second goal of the game during the Premier League match at St James Park, Newcastle upon Tyne. Issue date: Sunday May 2, 2021. Copyright: Stu Forster
Newcastle United v Arsenal – Premier League – St James Park Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang right scores their side’s second goal of the game during the Premier League match at St James Park, Newcastle upon Tyne. Issue date: Sunday, May 2, 2021. Copyright: Stu Forster

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has to start up front, in the absence of Alexandre Lacazette. Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe will probably keep their places on the wings.

It’s harsh on Gabriel Martinelli, who played very well against Newcastle United. But Pepe has been the key man for Arsenal in the last few Europa League knockout games and Saka remains a big threat, particularly with Aubameyang and Odegaard to play off.

Arsenal Predicted Lineup vs Villarreal

Arsenal Predicted Lineup vs Villarreal created using Chosen11.com
Arsenal Predicted Lineup vs Villarreal created using Chosen11.com
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