The Europa League semifinals continue on Thursday as Arsenal host Villarreal at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners are facing a 2-1 deficit after dropping the first leg away to Villarreal last week, and will be reunited with former manager Unai Emery, who now coaches the Spanish club and is just one match from another cup final. Despite the 2-1 aggregate, Arsenal are considered favorites and will look to take advantage of their away goal against the Spanish side.
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Let's get to the predictions:
Arsenal vs. Villarreal
Date: Thursday, May 6 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+
Rongen's take: Former Gunners boss Unai Emery returns to Emirates Stadium up 2-1 and with a battle-hardened outfit packed full of experienced performers well equipped to cope with pressure. Expect a high-scoring stalemate and Villarreal to advance to the final. Pick: Arsenal 2, Villarreal 2 (Villarreal advance 4-3 on aggregate)
Romano's take: As with Slavia Prague, Arsenal can play in the second leg and win their way into the final. Experience and history can make the difference -- the talented Bukayo Saka, too. Pick: Arsenal 2, Villarreal 0 (Arsenal advance 3-2 on aggregate)
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Echegaray's take: I think Unai Emery is looking back at the tape of the first leg and ruing the fact that his team really should have killed the opponent. One side of the coin tells you that the Spanish side had more opportunities to dismantle Arsenal, especially after Dani Ceballos's red card in the 57th minute. But when you look at the statistics, Arsenal were actually -- at least for the purpose of possession -- the team in control. They also took as many shots as the home side, it's just that few went on target. A 2-1 advantage is not enough to make me think Villarreal enter this game as the clear favorite, but they do hold the lead and if they're smarter with their chances and productivity, they should reach the final. But I don't know, something about this game tells me that for once, just this once, Arsenal's fate will finally be determined by fortune going THEIR way. Pick: Arsenal 3, Villarreal 1 a.e.t. (Arsenal advance 4-3 on aggregate)
Johnson's take: Emery gets another shot at Europa League glory after steering the Yellow Submarine past his former employers and into the final. Pick: Arsenal 1, Villarreal 1 (Villarreal advance 3-2 on aggregate)
Benge's take: There is every reason to think Arsenal will be vastly improved. Kieran Tierney and David Luiz can bolster the defense while the disastrous strikerless system from the first leg can be ditched with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang available again. Even on an off-night the Gunners did enough to test a Villarreal side that will be without key weapons including Juan Foyth and the away goal they got should count for a lot. Except, do you really believe a team whose defining trait is its propensity to self-destruct won't concede at least once? Arsenal have left themselves with much too much to do. Pick: Arsenal 2, Villarreal 2 (Villarreal advance 4-3 on aggregate)
Gonzalez's take: The Gunners concede early to Gerard Moreno, but the attack kicks into gear with an electric display, overpowering the visitors' slow defense to advance to the final. Pick: Arsenal 3, Villarreal 1 (Arsenal advance 4-3 on aggregate)
Herrera's take: Arsenal dropped the first leg against Villarreal, but the 2-1 aggregate is narrow enough for the team to overcome. The home advantage could come into play against a Villarreal side that isn't quite used to big moments in the European stage. Pick: Arsenal 2, Villarreal 0 (Arsenal advance 3-2 on aggregate)
Goodman's take: Arsenal managed to somehow escape the first leg of this matchup with their chances of winning intact. At home they won't face anything as challenging as being down two goals and a man with their tournament on the line. Unai Emery may be a Europa League wizard, but Arsenal's ability to control the ball will ultimately be too much for Villarreal. Pick: Arsenal 2, Villarreal 0 (Arsenal advance 3-2 on aggregate)
Thanks for checking us out, and good luck with your picks!