Match Preview: Valencia vs Arsenal

Valencia host Arsenal to the Mestalla Stadium for the second leg of their Europa League semi-final encounter on Thursday night.

A brace from Alexandre Lacazette and another from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw the Gunners come from behind to win at the Emirates last week. They travel to Spain with a 3-1 advantage, as Unai Emery is chasing his fourth trophy in the competition.

Winning the Europa League is Arsenal’s only hope of securing Champions League football, after a disappointing 1-1 with Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

Valencia is also competing for a top-four finish in La Liga, as the Bats sit in fifth, three points behind fourth-placed Getafe in the race. They were extraordinary over the last weekend, trashing relegated Huesca 6-2 at Estadio El Alcoraz.

Team news

Valencia will be missing central midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia and winger Denis Cheryshev in the second leg against the Gunners, both through injuries.

Head coach Marcelino doesn’t have any fresh injury concerns, with Spanish international Rodrigo Moreno being a major doubt for the game on Thursday night.

Aaron Ramsey has waved goodbye to the Emirates last Sunday before his move to Juventus, as the Welsh midfielder is out until the end of the season with a hamstring tear suffered in the second leg win over Napoli.

Long term absentees Danny Welbeck, Rob Holding, Dennis Suarez, and Hector Bellerin will also miss Arsenal’s mid-week trip to Spain.

What did the managers say

Marcelino Garcia Toral was disappointed after the 3-1 defeat in the first leg, saying his players deserved more from the game.

“We are disappointed that we did not manage to achieve a better result. In my opinion, I think Arsenal did not deserve such a big result. I think they have been clinical in their chances, as their first two chances finished in goals,” he said via Bleacher Report.

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“I think we played at such a high tempo, and it was a pity that we conceded that goal (Arsenal’s third) that nobody was expecting because in my opinion we had the game under control, but that goal in injury time put us in a more complicated position.”

Arsenal boss Unai Emery urged his players to focus on Valencia, after virtually losing their chances for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

“I think we worked and tried but didn’t get the result for taking chances next week. Now our way is to be strong in our focus for Thursday,” he said via Goal.

“We are going to be stronger in our mentality to prepare for the match on Thursday. And we are going to give the best individual and collective performances in the last matches, above all [against] Burnley.

“I think we can speak now about the different situations and issues in the season, but it’s better to take the focus for Thursday against Valencia – and we are going to do the analysis also.”

Stats

Prior to last week’s first legs, these two sides had met five times competitively in the past, with Valencia boasting two wins – including the 1980 Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup Final.

Arsenal have conceded no less than three goals in their last two away games, losing 3-1 to Wolverhampton and 3-0 to Leicester City in the Premier League.

Four of Valencia’s last five outings produced over 2,5 goals and saw both involved sides hitting the back of the nets.

The Bats have suffered only one defeat at home in 2019, 1-0 against Eibar in the last game they played at Mestalla. They’ve won 10 of the 15 games, however, noting four draws as well in the process.

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