Arsene Wenger states his prediction for Arsenal v Villarreal in Europa League semi-final
Arsene Wenger is backing Arsenal to beat Villarreal in the Europa League semi-final at The Emirates on Thursday night.
The Gunners suffered a 2-1 loss to the Spanish side in the first leg of their semi-final clash last week as Unai Emery got the better of Mikel Arteta.
Goals from Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol helped the former Arsenal manager secure a slight advantage over the north London side ahead of the return leg at The Emirates.
Nicolas Pepe netted a 73rd-minute penalty to ensure Arsenal scored a vital away goal as Arteta looks to win his second piece of silverware since taking over the reins from Emery.
Arsenal are in ninth position and out of the running to finish in the Premier League’s top four this season.
However, the Gunners can still qualify for next season’s Champions League competition by winning the Europa League.
Former Arsenal manager Wenger is backing Arsenal to beat Villarreal and booked their spot in the Europa League showpiece.
“I want them to do well,” Wenger told beIN SPORTS. “It’s an opportunity to get to a final and come back to the Champions League.
“I believe there is no chance of that in the Premier League but it’s still possible [through the Europa League].
“It will be a success if Arsenal win a trophy, that is always a success, but your real qualities are decided by where you stand in the championship.
“This is the route left for them and they have to completely for it. It’s very strange [Arsenal facing former manager Emery], it looks like an indoor Arsenal game, especially with no fans!
“But overall you still have an advantage playing at home, you feel more comfortable at home. I would say Arsenal have enough offensive potential to win the game.
“You have so many strikers and people who can score goals and be creative. 2-1 is the result at the moment but you should be quite confident to change and reverse it.”
Arsenal have won their two previous Uefa meetings against Villarreal in the Champions League knockout stage.
The Gunners were 1-0 aggregate winners against Villarreal in 2006, when Wenger’s side reached their first and only Champions League final.
The north London side were 4-1 aggregate winners against Villarreal in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2009.