Villarreal vs Arsenal tactics: Predicting how Europa League semi-final will be won and lost

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Simon Collings
·2-min read
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 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

Arsenal are gearing up for their biggest game in recent years as they tonight face a season-defining Europa League semi-finals, with former boss Unai Emery in the opposite dugout.

For the third time in four years, the Gunners are into the last four of the competition - with Villarreal their opponents for a place in the final.

Here's what to look out for tonight...

Keeping Gerard Moreno quiet

The striker is arguably the best player in Spain right now.

REUTERS
REUTERS

He has scored or assisted 16 goals in 14 games since the turn of the year, the best record in La Liga. In the Europa League this season he has scored or assisted in every knockout game.

Arsenal will be wary of Moreno's threat and whoever Gunners boss Mikel Arteta chooses to select at centre-back to mark him promises to have their work cut out in keeping him quiet. His strike partner, Paco Alcacer, is deadly, too.

Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Time for Thomas to join the party

Games like tonight's are exactly why Arsenal paid £45million to sign Thomas Partey.

The Ghanaian has played on the biggest stages already with Atletico Madrid and now the Gunners need him to shine. We have seen flashes of brilliance, but he is still yet to live up to the hype he created during his time in Spain.

Returning there provides him with the perfect stage to deliver. If Arsenal are to control midfield, they need Partey to step up and dominate proceedings like he did for Atletico.

Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Allow Saka and Smith Rowe to shine

They were the stars of Arsenal's win over Slavia Prague in the last round and now Arteta needs Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe to deliver again.

The youngsters have been the bright spark in a disappointing season and once more the onus is on them. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both trained yesterday, but they could be short on fitness.

It means Saka and Smith Rowe will likely be charged with leading Arsenal's attack, which they did so well in Prague. This, however, will be the biggest stage yet for two of Arsenal's most promising academy graduates.

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