Arsenal will be looking to put one foot in the Europa League final when they face Valencia in their semi-final first leg.
The Gunners reached this stage last season but were knocked out by another Spanish side in Atletico Madrid. Meanwhile, Valencia are in their first Europa League semi-final since 2013/14 when they lost to Sevilla.
Read on for Arsenal v Valencia live stream options, team news, predicted XIs, stats and TV channel info.
When is Arsenal vs Valencia?
Competition: Europa League
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Date: Thursday, 2 May
Kick-off: 8:00 PM BST
Where can I watch live?
Arsenal’s game against Valencia can be viewed by UK residents on BT Sport 2, channel 414 on Sky and channel 428, for Virgin Media users. BT Sport subscribers can also watch the game online at sport.bt.com and via their BT Sport app.
Arsenal and Valencia have faced off five times previously, with the Spanish side boasting a slight advantage. Los Che have won two of the matches compared to Arsenal’s one, with two draws.
Arsenal wins: 1 Draws: 2 Valencia wins: 2
During his time with Spanish side Sevilla, Unai Emery made the Europa League his own, winning the competition three years in a row between 2013/14 and 2015/16. And after an unsuccessful spell with Paris Saint-Germain – in terms of European glory – the Spaniard is looking to return to his throne.
But it’s not just his Europa League record on the line when Arsenal face Valencia in the semi-finals. With two games remaining in the Premier League, Arsenal sit two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the race for the final Champions League spot. While nothing is confirmed, winning the Europa League could prove Arsenal’s best route back into the Champions League.
And the same can be said for Valencia. The Spanish side are currently sixth in La Liga with three games remaining and face stiff competition for fourth from Getafe and Sevilla. A Europa League spot is practically guaranteed with their place in the Copa del Rey final, and five-point gap over eighth-placed Alaves but the Champions League is surely the goal for Los Che.
And that’s what makes Thursday’s game so important for both sides, which could bring either a nervy or uninhibited 90 minutes at the Emirates.
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Can Arsenal overturn poor Spanish record?
Last season’s semi-final defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid was not the first time Arsenal have come unstuck against Spanish opposition in European competitions.
In fact, the Gunners have only won 10 of their 33 games against Spanish sides in Uefa fixtures with their most recent coming against Barcelona in 2011, winning the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie 2-1 at the Emirates. But, as Arsenal fans will remember, the Gunners went on to lose 4-3 on aggregate after a controversial second leg.
That was followed by back-to-back defeats against Barcelona in 2016, with an aggregate score of 5-1, before last season’s 2-1 defeat to Atletico.
However, there is some hope. Of Arsenal’s 10 wins, eight have come at home including one against Valencia in the 2000/01 Champions League quarter-finals – though, once again, the Spanish side came out on top.
Will Kevin Gameiro haunt Emery?
Even with Francis Coquelin suspended, Thursday’s game will be one of reunions with Shkodran Mustafi also facing his former side, having joined Arsenal from Valencia in 2016.
There will also be a chance for Emery to see Kevin Gameiro, with the pair having enjoyed a successful spell as manager and striker at Sevilla, winning three successive Europa Leagues.
Gameiro scored the decisive penalty in the 2013/14 final win over Benfica and equalised against Liverpool two years later as Sevilla came from behind to wrap up three in a row.
And to this day, Gameiro has not tasted more success as a player than his 145 games under Emery, scoring 67 goals across all competitions. This season, the Frenchman has eight goals in 49 games, having been on the fringe of Valencia’s XI at times, but can still prove a danger for Emery to ponder.
Arsenal fans were recently hit by the bad news that Aaron Ramsey’s hamstring injury has ruled him out for the rest of the season – ending his Gunners career. Unai Emery’s men are also sweating on the fitness of Mesut Ozil and Nacho Monreal.
Meanwhile, Valencia will be without Geoffrey Kondogbia, Denis Cheryshev, Cristiano Piccin and Francis Coquelin, with the latter suspended.
1. Cech to get his final Emirates appearance
With Arsenal likely to be in competition for fourth until the end of the Premier League season, it is unlikely Petr Cech will get the chance of a ceremonial final league appearance – after confirming his impending retirement.
And so, as the club’s Europa League goalkeeper, Thursday looks set to be the Czech’s final appearance at the Emirates Stadium.
Further up the pitch, Alex Iwobi could be preferred to Mesut Ozil once more, as the German remains a doubt with a foot injury, with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joining him in attack.
Predicted Arsenal XI (3-5-2-1): Cech; Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Iwobi, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
2. Wass to replace suspended Coquelin
With Coquelin suspended, Valencia will need to find someone else to replace the Frenchman in midfield – and Daniel Wass seems the most likely alternative.
The Dane started Valencia’s 1-0 defeat to Eibar at right back but should move into his favoured position to partner Dani Parejo.
There could also be a start for Kevin Gameiro alongside Rodrigo, with the stature of their opponents, but Santi Mina is another option.
Predicted Valencia XI (4-2-2-2): Neto; Roncaglia, Garay Gabriel, Gayà; Parejo, Wass; Guedes, Soler; Rodrigo, Gameiro.
3. Ozil to return to fitness
It’s fair to say Ozil has not had the best season at Arsenal, with poor performances being added to injury problems.
But despite that, with the importance of Thursday’s game, the Evening Standard believes the German will get a recall to play behind Lacazette and Aubameyang.
The forward pairing had an afternoon to forget against Leicester on Sunday, but
Evening Standard‘s predicted Arsenal XI (3-4-1-2): Cech; Koscielny, Monreal, Sokratis; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil; Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Valencia love a draw against English sides, with 16 in their 37 games to date including a stalemate at Old Trafford earlier this season. And when added to Arsenal’s less-than-desirable record against Spanish teams, it could be the most likely result. Arsenal 1-1 Valencia.