The Italian club, Roma, and Spanish side, Villarreal, will be hoping to thwart the possibility of an all-English Europa League final when they take on Manchester United and Arsenal respectively on Thursday night.
Two seasons ago, it was Chelsea and Arsenal battling it out in the final with the Blues claiming the top prize. Now, the Gunners are seeking another chance to win UEFA’s second-tier club competition but they must find a way past Villarreal in the semi-final.
Unlike the other three teams still in contention, Manchester United also have their glory moment in the Europa League having claimed the title in the 2016/17 season; beating Ajax 2-0 in that season’s final.
Manchester United Vs Roma
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope to end his unenviable record in the semi-finals when Manchester United take on Roma at Old Trafford Thursday night. The Norwegian has lost his last four semi-finals, falling twice to defeat-to Manchester City in the League Cup, to Chelsea in the FA Cup, and to Sevilla at this stage of the Europa League last season.
Going into Thursday’s tie, United played an uninspiring goalless draw with Leeds on Sunday but many will assume the Red Devils are keeping their gun powder dry for the Roma clash.
United have played three ties in the Europa League this season, having dropped into the competition midway through the campaign. They beat Granada 2-0 home and away in the last 32, but have subsequently failed to win against AC Milan and Real Sociedad at Old Trafford.
They did what was required of them in the away legs, though, beating Milan 1-0 in Italy and emphatically trouncing Real Sociedad 4-0 in Spain to reach the semi-finals.
For Roma, they are on a bad run; having failed to win their last four games and registering only two wins in their last eight matches. If the bad form of Roma continues, then the Red Devils can cash on that to boost their chance of snatching the final ticket.
Villarreal vs Arsenal
As for the other semi-final clash, it pitches Unai Emery against his former club Arsenal. Emery is referred to as an expert in the Europa and he is expected to pose some challenges for an inconsistent Arsenal team that must win the Europa to be in Europe next season.
The Yellow Submarine have been superb in the competition this season. They have won 11 of their 12 matches so far (drawing the other), and have won all six of their matches at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Two youngsters with ‘Nigerian blood’ Samuel Chukwueze and Bukayo Saka are expected to play key roles for their respective teams in this match.
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