Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal will have a reunion with their old boss in Unai Emery as they inflicted a crushing defeat in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Meanwhile, Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United eased past a lacklustre Granada to set up a clash with Italian side Roma to where they are most likely to prevail.
Here are our analysis of the quarter-final fixtures of the Europa League:
MANCHESTER UNITED 2-0 GRANADA (4 – 0 on agg.)
Manchester United eased past Granada on Thursday to advance to the semi-finals of the Europa League. United entered the second leg of the tie with a two-goal cushion and added to their lead to score a 4-0 aggregate win over the Spanish side.
Edinson Cavani extended their lead five minutes into the game. Granada were eager to give United a fight and they moved upfield to attack a weak defence.
But their efforts were in vain as a feisty Paul Pogba combined with a skilful David de Gea managed to keep a clean sheet. An own goal from Jesus Vallejo in the 90th minute added a cherry on top of United’s lead.
This is the fifth time United have reached the semi-finals of a cup competition since Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer took charge in December 2018. Solskjaer will be keen to end his infamous streak of four losses from four semi-finals and they will be hoping to make it all the way to the final, where they are likely to face rivals Arsenal.
ARSENAL 4-0 SK SLAVIA PRAGUE (5-1 on agg.)
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal breezed past Slavia Prague on Thursday to enter the semi-finals of the Europa League for the third time in four seasons. Arteta’s men had dealt comprehensively with Slavia, playing without nerves and hesitation.
Three goals in a span of six minutes well before half-time gave Arsenal an unassailable lead, allowing them to treat the second-half as a game management exercise. Nicolas Pépé and Bukayo Saka scored either side of Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty to inflict Slavia’s first defeat at home in almost 18 months.
Arsenal will now face Villarreal in the semi-finals who is coached by Unai Emery – the former Arsenal boss whom Arteta replaced last year. The fixture will now be an encounter to decide if Mikel Arteta has truly turned around his side or if there are deeper issues to be dealt within the team.
ROMA 1-1 AJAX (3-2 on agg.)
Roma have reached the quarter-finals after thoroughly dominating their opponents with a 23-7 scoreline and they continued that form in the quarter-finals.
The last remaining Italian side in Europa League this season held a commanding position heading into the return fixture, having won 2-1 in Amsterdam a week earlier.
Brian Brobbey levelled the aggregate score in the 49th minute. They almost came to lead the scoreline when Dusan Tadic made a simple finish, but the buildup was ruled out as foul-play by a VAR review. Roma responded quickly, with Ryan Gravenberch inadvertently deflecting Riccardo Calafiori’s cross into the path of Dzeko, who made no mistake in netting the ball.
Roma have been lacklustre on Thursday and they have to level up their game if they want to advance into the finals.
Their head-to-head against the Red Devils gives Roma no comfort as they have five straight losses in six encounters – including a 7-1 drubbing at the Old Trafford.
VILLARREAL 2-1 DINAMO ZAGREB (3-1 on agg.)
Paco Alcácer and Gerard Moreno struck in the first half as Villarreal sealed their place in the semi-finals of the Europa League, becoming the only Spanish side left in the fray.
Villarreal entered Thursday’s second-leg with a 1-0 lead on aggregate, and two goals from Alcácer and Moreno made the lead unassailable. Mislav Oršić gave Dinamo a glimmer of hope, but it was too late to stop the dominant Spaniards.
The Croatian side had a dream run in their UEFA Europa League campaign, showing great quality, confidence, and plenty of team spirit.
Villarreal had a stellar Europa League campaign as well, winning 10 of their 11 fixtures and levelling one. Unai Emery will now face his old club Arsenal in the semi-finals and he will be keen to overcome them to reach the finals.
LOOKING FORWARDThe prospect of an all-English final in the Europa League is increasingly becoming likely as Arsenal and Manchester United face weaker sides and look to be in superior form. United should have no issues in breezing past Roma, but Arsenal’s tiff with Unai Emery’s Villarreal will be a mouthwatering fixture to watch.
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