Arsenal manager Unai Emery has opted to start the much-maligned Shkodran Mustafi in their Europa League semi-final first leg meeting against Valencia at the Emirates Stadium.
Mustafi has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks but has been deemed good enough by his manager who is looking to guide Arsenal to a first European final since 2006.
Who starts for Arsenal and Valencia? Five key things to know…
- Arsenal welcome Valencia for their Europa League semi-final first leg.
- Aaron Ramsey was ruled out in the build-up with a hamstring injury.
- It means there’s a place in the starting XI for Matteo Guendouzi, who last started for The Gunners in their 3-2 league defeat against Crystal Palace.
- There’s a start for ex-Arsenal central defender Gabriel Paulista in Valencia’s team.
- Alongside him is veteran Argentine centre-back Ezequiel Garay.
Missing from the Gunners squad is Aaron Ramsey, out with a hamstring injury, meaning he’s now played his final game for the north London club ahead of a move to Juventus in the summer.
🚨 TEAM NEWS❗️
Here's how we line up to face @valenciacf 🗞
What are your thoughts on the side Unai Emery has picked? 🤔
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 2, 2019
As a result there’s a reshuffle in Emery’s midfield; Mesut Ozil starts alongside Granit Xhaka who is partnered in central defence by Matteo Guendouzi, who last started in Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace.
Another big move comes in defence; Emery has seemingly gone with Mustafi — facing his former club — at right-back, where he’s been deployed before, ahead of him is Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
🔥 Este es nuestro XI INICIAL 🦇
— Valencia CF 🦇💯 (@valenciacf) May 2, 2019
Valencia, meanwhile, feature an ex-Arsenal defender in the guise of Gabriel Paulista. He’s part of a back-three which includes veteran Argentine centre-back Ezequiel Garay. Marcelino’s men are currently on a two-match losing streak and find themselves sixth in La Liga.
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Arsenal fans react to Emery’s starting XI
To say Arsenal fans were not delighted with the presence of Guendouzi and Mustafi is an understatement.
— Tiago Silva Pontes (@tiagosilvapb17) May 2, 2019
— kb (@kvrim6) May 2, 2019
When you check the team news and see the names of Mustafi and Guendouzi… pic.twitter.com/7p1BBEyRXD
— CJayAFC (@Charlie_Jay_) May 2, 2019
When ever I see Mustafi in our lineup pic.twitter.com/c0ieTmJgsL
— Jeffson (@Jeffson__) May 2, 2019
Emery must be trying to hold up and go with the counter… But playing Mustafi and leaving Torreira on the bench < Guendouzi? In a Semi? Really?
— Dean (@ArsenalNexus) May 2, 2019
Five at the back and Mustafi? pic.twitter.com/9MHTRGHYfY
— Hob (@wengzlover) May 2, 2019
Mustafi anf Guendouzi are starting in a semi final with Torreira on the bench pic.twitter.com/bLX9gpAaCD
— giu (@Giulestina_) May 2, 2019
Personally think Emery has lost the plot playing Guendouzi over Torreira. I swear we’ve been through this like 3 times now this season.
— TikiTakaConnor (@TikiTakaConnor) May 2, 2019
Guendouzi for what surely. This unai is confused
— BABAKE…DC1X (@IvanHezz) May 2, 2019
— Josh Pitt (@Josh_Rocket) May 2, 2019