Villarreal vs. Arsenal – Europa League, April 29, 2021

| April 28, 2021 7:38 am PDT

Unai Emery will be hoping to come back and haunt Arsenal when Villarreal hosts his old club for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday, April 29.

Emery led the Gunners to the Europa League final back in 2018 but was sacked six months later. Needless to say, he will be eager to get the better of his former side.

Before we get to my Villarreal vs. Arsenal prediction and betting pick, let’s take a look at the odds and assess the teams.

Villarreal vs. Arsenal Odds

Villarreal to Win2.50
The Draw3.25
Arsenal to Win2.80

As you can see, the bookmakers are expecting the first leg to be a close affair. Villarreal (2.50) is the narrow favorite, although Arsenal (2.80) isn’t too far behind.

Given that the best online sportsbooks can’t seem to separate these two sides, could the draw (3.25) be the way to go here?

Villarreal vs. Arsenal First Leg Preview

Villarreal’s domestic form has been somewhat iffy in recent months. However, the Yellow Submarine has been almost perfect in the Europa League this season.

Not only are the Spaniards unbeaten in Europe this term, but they have also won 11 of their 12 matches in the competition – recording just a single draw during the group stage back in November.

After finishing five points clear at the top of Group I, the Spaniards dispatched Red Bull Salzburg (4-1), Dynamo Kyiv (4-0), and Dinamo Zagreb (3-1) in the knockout phase. They will now be confident of overcoming Arsenal.

Emery’s men suffered a 2-1 defeat to Barcelona last weekend, meaning they head into the first leg on the back of successive La Liga losses. That said, they have also won four of their last seven domestic games.

Having bagged six goals and three assists in his last six Europa League outings, Gerard Moreno is undoubtedly Villarreal’s danger man. The forward has chalked up 26 goals and eight assists in all competitions this season, so Arsenal will need to keep him quiet.

In fairness, the Gunners’ Europa League campaign has also taken a very different route to their domestic season.

Mikel Arteta’s men won each of their opening six games en route to finishing eight points clear at the top of Group B before seeing off Benfica (4-3), Olympiacos (3-2), and Slavia Prague (5-1) in the previous knockout rounds.

But when it comes to the Premier League, Arsenal has been poor.

Last weekend’s loss to Everton means the Londoners have only managed to win one of their last five EPL matches. With a record of W13-D7-L13, it is hardly surprising that Arsenal currently sits tenth in the English top-flight – 12 points shy of the top four.

The Gunners have invariably left their domestic woes behind them and upped their game in the Europa League this season. However, getting past Emery’s well-organized Villarreal won’t be easy.

My Villarreal vs. Arsenal Prediction and Pick

Pick
  • The Draw
    3.25

The bookies’ odds suggest that Thursday’s match will be a cagey encounter – and I totally agree with that viewpoint.

Of course, Emery will be desperate to topple his former club and lay down a marker. But both managers are likely to approach the first leg with caution, especially with the second leg to play next week.

While I expect the first leg to be a low-scoring game, the draw feels like the most probable result.

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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