MATCH REPORT: VILLARREAL VS ARSENAL, UNAI EMERY COMES BACK TO HAUNT ARSENAL AS AUBAMEYANG AND CO. ARE SENT PACKING
As Unai Emery returned to the Emirates 2-1 up from the first-leg, Arsenal came into this game needing goals and stops. The match started out pretty evenly with both the teams happy to knock the ball around, with Samuel Chukuwueze’s curled effort being palmed away by Bernd Leno in the 4th minute the only highlight of the opening twenty-five minutes.
The game burst into life of sorts, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shot clattered off the post after some defensive ping-pong from the Villarreal defenders following a corner. Chukuwueze, one of the few bright sparks till then, exited the pitch on a stretcher soon after.
Then Rulli in the away team’s goal almost dropped Aubameyang’s tame shot into his own net. The half finished nil-nil with Emery’s side definitely on top in terms of moving forward.
The second half started with Nicolas Pepe flashing a shot wide in the opening 15 seconds. Arsenal kept attacking, and as Rulli flapped at a Bellerin cross, Emile Smith-Rowe saw his scooped effort sail just wide.
Villarreal slowly grew into the half which prompted Arteta to bring on young attacker Gabriel Martinelli midway through in search of that elusive goal. Aubameyang’s last action in the match was hitting the post again with a header, as Lacazette came on in place of the Gabon international with just over ten minutes remaining.
Let the celebrations begin! 💛🎉
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) May 6, 2021
The Gunners laid siege to Villarreal’s goal as the clock wind down but were unable to score on the night as Arteta’s side exited. For Villarreal it is a first trip to the final of a European competition ever as Unai Emery schooled his old employers on their home turf.
Here is our three key takeaways:
LACKLUSTRE ARSENAL FALL FLAT
Aubameyang and co. came into this match knowing they need to score at least once on the night. But the effort seemed largely absent. Odegaard was poor, Pepe tried a couple of runs which ended in nothing while Saka, often their lone spark, also struggling to influence the game.
Villarreal progress, as we are eliminated at the semi-final stage.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 6, 2021
It was Smith-Rowe who looked the closest in terms of conjuring something, especially in the second half, but ultimately it was for naught. Except the two good chances that their skipper had, Arsenal did not have any other shot of note and it was a very tame end to what had seemed like a very promising European campaign.
EMERY LUCKY AS GAME MANAGEMENT TRIUMPHS
The two efforts that came off the post either side of halftime must have felt Unai Emery with dread, knowing that Arsenal only needed one to advance on the away goals rule. With Arsenal coming forward time and again towards the end, the Villarreal boss marshaled his troops very efficiently in order to see out the draw.
THIS TIME THE SUBMARINE CAME OUT ON TOP!
— Villarreal CF English (@Eng_Villarreal) May 6, 2021
There were no risks taken throughout as Villarreal seemed content to just have possession of the ball and attack when the occasion arose. That was all on the back of a solid first-leg win which had enabled them to soak up the Arsenal pressure time and again. Clearly, Emery played for the draw and in the end got his desired result.
YELLOW SUBMARINE ROLL ON AS EMIRATES SHUDDER
Villarreal will meet Manchester United in Gdansk at the end of this month for a chance at winning the Europa League, with Emery praying that Chukuwueze’s injury is not as serious as it appeared. If they can keep this compact defence, the Red Devils will find it hard to breach the hull of the submarine.
For Arteta, the prospect of missing out on Europe next season just got very real. With his side currently in 9th and seven points behind Tottenham in 6th, Arsenal are set to not play continental football for the first time in 25 years.