Arsenal are in Spain this evening to take on Unai Emery’s Villarreal in the Europa League semi-final first leg.

Here are the official line-ups.

Villarreal: To follow

Subs:

Arsenal: Leno, Chambers, Holding, Mari, Xhaka, Partey, Ceballos, Saka, Smith Rowe, Odegaard, Pepe

Subs: Ryan, Okonkwo, Bellerin, Gabriel, Cedric, Luiz, Elneny, Willian, Nelson, Nketiah, Martinelli, Aubameyang

Follow the game on the Arseblog live blog

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Russ

I like what he’s done there

goongot

Always wanted to see pepe start upfront but never thought boss would choose this game. We would so love an hybrid of laca-auba and pepe is the closest to being that in current squad.

Russ

Indeed! Good to try and throw them off course a bit too

Appearances

Pepe can stake a claim on the top spot henceforth. His Arsenal career may likely be prolonged if he steers clear of competing for the same position with Saka and ESR.

COYRRR Gunners!

David C

I think he’s done a complete Pep Guardiola and over thought it. A back three! We haven’t done that in ages. This is like the Willian as a false 9 thing again.

Boy oh boy, I hope I’m wrong!!!

DPK

Why do you think a back 3 ? A back 4 with Xhaka at LB again presumably ?

Dave

If he’s doing anything like what the best manager in the world does then that’s probably a good thing.

And if you’re referring to the Lyon game the loss was due to poor finishing, not due to the manager. He was a lightning rod for criticism which was very undue.

Gio

Nice
COYG!

Up4GrabsNow!

Why not Martinelli though? If Pepe up front does not work, the knives (and forks & spoons and quite possibly the chopsticks) will be out.

Sdp

Is Cedric frozen out of the team?

El Mintero

Shouldn’t be. He’s better at left back than Xhaka as we’ve seen in the first half!

Goomad

But….why???

Jack

The mind games Arteta, I love it! Emery probably didn’t sleep last night wondering how to play against Laca / Auba and instead he throws a spanner in the works with Pepe!!

Bob's Mexican Cousin

Good ebening,
I have not enforced dreaming up to anything good. We shall play with purpose moving forward, backward and sideways as we see fit. There is no line.
Unai

Thessaloniki

if we don’t win = he was overthinking. wait for it.

Laca New Signing

Kill him with his own weapon!

Ambazonian Gunner

Copy and paste from Pep’s against PSG

IamsterdamGooner

Oohhh come on you beautiful Arsenal, come on!!
I love you, just don’t fuck me over and let’s bring back a healthy aggregate lead. And a clean sheet please. Thank you.
COYG

North Bank

Love it!! COYG!!

TazzyB

Two keepers on the bench?

Belfast Gooner

Been two Keepers on the bench for the whole tournament. Think it’s to legislate for maybe one or both Keepers getting sick. Arsenla seem to rotate the 3rd choice in the knockout stages. Okonkeo, Hillson and Hein have all travelled during the knockout stages.

TazzyB

Ah fair enough

Arsepedant

UEFA regulation, in your twelve subs you must name two goalkeepers.

Dave Roberts

2 goalies on the bench are a requirement in all Europa League games, Tazz.

Goonerink

Is Pepe up front or are we doing a city?
either way I like this setup.
pepe wide hasn’t really gelled with the more tiki taka esr and saka.
though he has been getting on the end of crosses and through balls from chambers.
makes sense to take him out of the tiki taka section of buildup and place him as the spear head instead!

Biggles

Makes sense keeping Auba on the bench. Looks a strong line up so fingers crossed. Of course a “good” win would relieve the pressure a little for the return game, but I’ll take a win of any sort or a score draw – and no silly mistakes.

ChicaGOoner

They are just going to run at Xhaka, aren’t they?

Yes Emery will certainly pinpoint that as a major tactic. Ironic as I think it was Emery who was the first to play Xhaka at left-back, I don’t think Wenger ever did.

RistoJ

Yes, I think it was vs Palace and Zaha dived over Xhaka’s extended leg to win the penalty and drew the game. Do I remember this right?

bob

We don’t have much choice other than to use him there, as Tierney didn’t make it.

Let’s support him the best we can, he is going to have a hard night but always outs a shift in wherever he is.

Love the attitude of team first, so let’s keep supporting him even if it’s hard going!

Bleeding gums murphy

Hope he don’t get two yellows 🤞

Nzini

Or one red

SB Still

Our back 4 lack pace.

BongoGooner

He should be captain

Mark Lankester

Arteta tried mind games over Lacazette and Tierney. Not sure that it was a good Idea. Focus on our game not about pulling the wool over our opponents.

Tim

Please do eff off

Jakeus

You’re right – it took Arteta sooooo much effort to come up with that plan, I’m sure he wasn’t capable of thinking of his own game-plan as a result.

MARIO DIAMANT

GOOD EBBENING!!!! COYG!!!!!!!!!!!

Georgeycharles

Didn’t see that coming; let’s hope it proves to be an Arteta masterstroke. COYG !

Poisen

While it could be Pepe up front, I think it could possibly be ESR as a roaming striker, with Pepe on left, Saka on right, and Odegaard at the 10.

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

It could be Saka up top. The boy can play anywhere

Arsepedant

All of Pepe, Saka, Smith-Rowe, and Odegaard can rotate amongst all of the attacking positions. Hopefully this will be a nightmare for Villareal to defend against.

Artetist

Hopefully this boosts Pepe’s confidence and improves his descision making, having less resposability and less bodies in front of him.

Still not convinced Xhaka at left-back is the way to go but I still fancy us to win.

filsuf

well the only other left footer we haven’t tried at LB is Pepe

A M

#COYG LADS LET’S DO THIS!!!!!!

Comedian

Good ebening

chepetin

“You may tell jokes for a living, but you are no comedian”

Man Manny

Is there any other team in Europe that can field 5 left footers in a starting 11?
If Tierney were fit and Ceballos dropped out, that would be 6.

On the right path?

Pepe is pretty composed in the box… so I do hope is in the CF role tonight. I’m excited!

johnire

Pepe has being busting his guts every game he’s played for a long time. He deserves this shot and I hope things ‘click’ for him tonight. Having him in those positions around the box will cause all sorts of problems for the two CB’s, giving plenty of space to our wonder kids. COYG!

Lacaubapepe

No recognizable number 9. Straight outta Pep’s playbook against PSG last night? Hope we have the same luck. COYG!!!

COYG1001

Near perfect! (Says the novice.) I would have liked to see Saka at LB and Gabi in for the onion man!

Still! Lots of pace and creativity! Good to see.

Johnny 2 Bad

Martinelli for Pepe? Well, let’s see….COYGs.

Mark

Interested to see what Pepe will do up top, but was hoping he would go with Martinelli there.

Lion

Let’s do this!!!

Kampala gooner 🤣

Think this is intended for alot of movement upfront. I like it

Kaj

Saka, Smith Rowe and Odegaard all together? So saucy. Reminds me of the good old days of our dimunitive tiki-takas- Santi, Tomas and Wilshere..

B JACK

SINK THE YELLOW SUBMARINE!

Salah

This game will proof who is better Emery or Arteta

Nostalgic Gooner

RvP – Robin van Pepe 😁

Once a gunner

How can MA use Xhaka as a left back? His lack of pace will be exposed

waka

Have been pondering pepe starting upfront and the coach finally gave it a go

chepetin

Well I’m sure that Emery didn’t plan for that. Let’s hope for:

Pepe: 34’, 57’ (pen), 64’

Danyboi

Nice switch up against an adversary that is very familiar with our usual formations. COYG!!!

Gunner08

Looks like a good lineup. However I don’t truly understand why auba is getting “oziled”. Can someone please clarify with me who okonkwo is?

Jill

Because he has malaria, how dare he be ill.

Gunner08

I thought he was getting over it. Hopefully he come off the bench at half during this train wreck of a game

He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

Defensive line up. Naieve Arteta as usual when it comes to tactics. How does Matinelli not start? Arteta must leave.

Dave

Hahahahha fckity fck, we started badly

Pat Rice and Beans

Arteta got it wrong. Was he playing FIFA UT when picked up the team?
Why Xhaka at LB with Bellerin and Cedric in the bench? Nothing against Chambers, bit Bellerin is miles better than him.

Mentalista

ESR upfront. There, fixed for you.

Oh Blboy it’s going to be a good ebening…

Jill

Artetas Arsenal plays OK football. But idk how he deserves to stay at this club. Absolutely awful results and no improvement in 1.5 years.

Tribe

Guess the board is happy he doesn’t say good ebening. It’s a good strategy for running a club also.

SB Still

We haven’t even made the customary individual mistake but we are behind already 🙁

SB Still

Two behind now and we haven’t even had a shot on target so far!

Tribe

Arteta should be handed a reward for inventing a new, so far unknown, formation in football which main strategy is “pass, try to pass, try to pass, run anywhere and lose the ball, that’s good”…
Sad times……………………..

SB Still

There is one pass they can make- back pass

North Bank

We’re asleep…

Lanre

Jesus! Unai is running circles around us. Is ESR striking or what? Am lost.

Jill

Get Arteta the fuck out of this club. Fucking embarrassing.

Tribe

Along with Kroenkes.

Jill

Thats implied

Lanre

Partey with his customary sky shot. This ain’t even supposed to be funny but it is. Unbelievable how poor we are.

Dave

Can we panic yet?

SB Still

Cue complaints about VAR, that’s how far low the standards have fallen. This club went toe toe with Fergi and his band of referees!

The Goon

That was a handball all over, VAR or not.

SarcasmB0t

I’m pretty sure the contact happened outside the box, too.

No complaints whatsoever.