Unai Emery is heading again to the Europa League final — on the expense of the membership that fired him final season.
Emery’s Villarreal held Arsenal to a 0-0 draw within the second leg of their semifinal on Thursday, which was sufficient to safe a 2-1 mixture win and set up a final towards Manchester United on May 26 in Poland.
Emery will probably be in search of his fourth Europa League title after successful three straight with Sevilla after which taking Arsenal to the final two years in the past.
“Satisfaction, pride, happiness,” Emery stated when requested how he was feeling after the match. “We have to go to the final and beat Manchester United.”
On his first return to the Emirates since being fired in November 2019, Emery calmly walked out of the tunnel so late that he almost missed the kickoff. He shortly shook his alternative Mikel Arteta’s hand after which watched as his new staff held a toothless Arsenal at bay with out ever wanting critically threatened.
For Arsenal, the failure to overturn the deficit means the staff is going through the chance of being shut out of European competitors for the primary time in 25 years.
Villarreal managed the primary half, almost scoring an early aim when Samu Chukwueze fired a curling shot within the fifth minute. But Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno was alert and palmed the ball out for a nook.
The guests had been almost gifted a aim within the 14th, when Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey’s wild backpass from lengthy vary almost fooled Leno, who needed to backpedal shortly to get the ball underneath management. A free kick from Daniel Parejo culred over Arsenal’s wall however didn’t dip, crusing simply over the crossbar within the twenty third.
Arsenal lacked spark within the first half, however almost went forward within the twenty sixth when captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shot hit the surface of the submit. The ahead almost scored once more within the thirty ninth by way of a goalkeeping error when his shot was spilled by Geronimo Rulli and the ball squeezed between his legs. But the keeper was in a position to declare it earlier than the ball may trickle over the road.
Aubameyang hit the submit once more within the second half, this time on the within. And Arsenal defender Rob Holding had two headers that went shut, however Villarreal’s protection noticed the match out.
Emery is already probably the most profitable coach within the historical past of the Europa League, successful it thrice in a row with Sevilla from 2014-2016. But he failed on his fourth try in 2019, when Arsenal misplaced 4-1 to Chelsea within the final.
On Thursday, Emery pumped his fists and screamed in pleasure on the final whistle earlier than going to shake Arteta’s hand. Villarreal gamers had been ecstatic, celebrating on the sphere by unfurling and holding an enormous banner in Spanish that stated “Nos vemos en Polonia,” or “We’ll see you in Poland.”
Two of Raúl Albiol’s teammates tackled him to the bottom whereas he was giving a post-match tv interview and sprayed him with water. In the dressing room, the celebrations continued with gamers dancing and singing alongside to reggaeton hit “Dale Don Dale.”
Arsenal’s elimination will anger followers additional because the staff sits mid-table within the Premier League and has little likelihood of qualifying for even the Europa League subsequent season.
“We are devastated, really disappointed,” Arteta stated. “We tried everything up until the last minute.”
It’s a state of affairs Arsenal hasn’t been in for the reason that 1995-96 season — a 12 months that fell between the illustrious managerial eras of George Graham and Arsene Wenger.
A couple of dozen Arsenal followers gathered exterior Emirates Stadium earlier than the match, a few of them protesting towards Stan Kroenke’s possession and the membership’s doomed bid to affix the Super League just a few weeks in the past. It was a a lot smaller group in comparison with the tons of who held a loud demonstration earlier than the Premier League match towards Everton on April 23.
Arteta was compelled to make a change earlier than a ball was even kicked on Thursday when left again Granit Xhaka was compelled to be taken out of the beginning lineup after he pulled up with a good muscle within the warmup.
“It modified our sport plan utterly. We may see within the first half we had been struggling with the ball,” Arteta stated.
Kieran Tierney, who himself simply got here again from a knee harm and solely began coaching once more just a few days in the past, was Xhaka’s alternative. Arteta lamented that he did not have a totally match squad, additionally mentioning Aubameyang’s current bout of malaria.
“The way we started the game wasn’t good enough,” Arteta stated. “We didn’t arrive here with everybody in top condition to be at our best.”