Former Premier League star, Robert Pires, has predicted that Villarreal has a slight advantage to beat Arsenal when both teams clash in today’s Europa League semi-final first-leg tie at the Estadio de la Cerámica.
Pires, a former Arsenal and Villarreal star, believes Unai Emery’s experience could play a major role in the two legs.
Villarreal had eliminated Slavia Praha from the Europa League last-8, while Mikel Arteta’s side knocked Dinamo Zagreb out of the competition.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play for two great teams, such as Arsenal and Villarreal,” Emery told AS.
“I was lucky to have the affection of the people and the two clubs, so seeing them now face each other in a semi-final is something special.
“It makes me feel strange. I see the situation at Arsenal with sadness, I speak with Arteta, and I see that it hasn’t been an easy year.
“What can save them is to win this Europa League and thus play the Champions League next year.
“It’s difficult to give a favourite for the semi-final. I would say it’s 50-50. It’s difficult to get it right.
“I think Villarreal has an advantage because they’ve Emery, a coach who has done very well in that competition. It does not surprise me at all that Villarreal is back in a semi-final.
“Everyone knows that if you go to see Villarreal, you’re going to see a good team, a team with very good players and that it’ll surely complicate things for Arsenal.”