Pires believes Villarreal have a slight advantage over Arsenal

Arsenal legend Robert Pires believes Villarreal ‘have an advantage’ as Unai Emery looks to haunt his former club and go to the Europa League final for the FIFTH time as a manager

  • Robert Pires played six seasons with Arsenal before spending four with Villarreal
  • He believes Villarreal are ‘a good team’ that will ‘complicate things for Arsenal’
  • Unai Emery won the Europa League three times in a row with Sevilla 
  • He reached the final with Arsenal two years ago before losing 4-1 to Chelsea 
  • Arsenal face Villarreal in the Europa League semi-final first leg tomorrow 

Arsenal legend Robert Pires believes Villarreal manager Unai Emery’s experience in the Europa League means the Spanish side have a slight advantage going into their Europa League semi-final.

Emery will be looking to get one up on his old side Arsenal after he was fired having spent just a year and a half at the north Londoners.   

The 49-year-old was appointed as Villarreal boss at the start of this season, where he’s taken them to seventh place in LaLiga and within three matches of a first ever European trophy. 

Robert Pires played for Arsenal for six seasons and won two Premier League titles before moving to Villarreal, where he spent four years at the club

But it’s his performance in the Europa League across his career that he’s most noted for. He won it three times in a row with Sevilla between 2013 and 2016, and he reached the final with Arsenal two years later.

He’s aiming for a fifth final with the Yellow Submarine. The side have reached the semi-final of the competition four times before, but they’ve never made it to the final.

Pires played 62 times in Europe for Arsenal and 19 times for Villarreal, he believes it’s Emery’s success in the competition that gives his side a slight advantage.  

‘I have been lucky enough to play for two great teams, such as Arsenal and Villarreal,’ he 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. 

Unai Emery is a Europa League specialist, having won it three times in a row with Sevilla

‘It makes me feel strange. I see the situation at Arsenal with sadness, I speak with Arteta and I see that it has not been an easy year. What can save them is to win this Europa League and thus play the Champions League next year.   

‘It is difficult to give a favorite for the semi-final. I would say it is 50-50. It is difficult to get it right. I think Villarreal has an advantage because they have Emery, a coach who has done very well in that competition. 

‘It doesn’t surprise me at all that Villarreal is back in a semi-final. We all know the Villarreal project, its president and his idea. What I like the most is that it is a team that has a clear idea, that they like to play good football and that is something that I and the football people like. 

‘Everyone knows that if you go to see Villarreal, you are going to see a good team, a team with very good players and that it will surely complicate things for Arsenal.’ 

Mikel Arteta will be looking to win his second major trophy with Arsenal after winning the FA Cup last season

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