Valencia will be hoping for an upturn of fortunes when they host Arsenal at the Mestalla on Thursday. The Spanish giants are trailing 3-1 on aggregate, having lost the first-leg at the Emirates. However, they have the advantage of the away goal, meaning a 2-0 win will be enough to seal a ticket for the Europa League final.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are on a dismal run of form in the Premier League. They are winless in their last four league games but have done well in Europe so far. And the Gunners will be hoping that Unai Emery’s experience in this competition will help them prevail in this crucial second-leg fixture this midweek.
Emery is likely to revert to his trusted 3-4-1-2 formation with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette leading the line. Henrikh Mkhitaryan could operate as the lone attacking midfielder with Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka forming the double-pivot. He could, however, switch to a more defensive formation later in the game.
Marcelino, on the other hand, will resort to his preferred 4-4-2 shape. Guedes could operate in a deeper role, paving the way for Santi Mina to lead the attack alongside Rodrigo Moreno. The pair will look to exploit Arsenal’s leaky defence that has conceded ten goals in their last four Premier League matches.
Valencia will continue to miss out on the services of Geoffrey Kondogbia and Denis Cheryshev. But, they will welcome the return of former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin. He will replace Mouctar Diakhaby in central midfield.
Valencia Predicted XI:
Neto; Piccini, Garay, Paulista, Gaya; Soler, Coquelin, Parejo, Guedes; Moreno, Mina.
Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin, Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey have all been ruled out due to long-term injuries. We expect Ainsley Maitland-Niles to return to the starting lineup after being rested at the weekend against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Arsenal Predicted XI:
Cech; Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny; Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Monreal; Mkhitaryan; Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Guedes will remain the weapon-in-chief for Valencia this week. The Portuguese international will look to take full advantage of Maitland-Niles’ attacking tendencies to exploit the space on the left flank. His service on the sides will be important for the strikers as well. Especially for Mina as he aims to end his five-game goalless drought.
Emery will be hoping his side to score an early goal in order nullify Valencia’s away goal advantage. That means the onus will be on star striker Lacazette to nick his team an early goal. The Frenchman scored twice in the first leg and will be keen to extend his scoring tally on Thursday.
Valencia win – 87/100
Draw – 29/10
Arsenal win – 29/10
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