Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says that his players must expect the unexpected against Villarreal’s unpredictability going forward.
The two sides meet in Spain on Thursday for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final. The Gunners got to the last four by beating Benfica, Olympiacos and Slavia Prague. Villarreal, meanwhile, got past RB Salzburg, Dinamo Kyiv and Dinamo Zagreb in their knockout stage ties.
The immediate interest of the semi-final meeting comes from the clash between Arteta and Unai Emery.
Arteta‘s fellow Spaniard took charge of Arsenal before his countryman replaced him in December 2019.
However, in his pre-match press conference, Arteta chose to focus on the qualities that the La Liga side possess.
Asked to name his biggest worry about Villarreal, he told reporters (via Football London): “I would say that the main thing is the clarity of ideas that they have both with and without the ball.
“In transition and in set pieces they have very clear ideas and some great connections with the players.
“They have some fantastic individual players, in the final third they can decide the game at any time.”
Mikel Arteta pleased with Arsenal attitude
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was pleased with his side's energy in their victory at Sheffield United, and hopes they can gain confidence from the performance ahead of their Europa League second-leg against Slavia Prague.
He added on Villarreal’s attacking potency: “They will compete throughout the game. They also have an ability to change system using either the same players or with different players in the game.
“That makes them a very different team to read.”
Arteta also revealed that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Kieran Tierney are all in contention to play.
However, talk of a potential takeover at Arsenal has taken some of the limelight off their on-field progress.
Spotify founder Daniel Ek has announced his intentions to wrestle control of the club from American Stan Kroenke.
In response, Kroenke issued a strong statement on Tuesday, reaffirming his commitment to the Gunners.
Arteta insists no doubt at Arsenal
Arteta said of the developments: “Yes, we spoke to them [the owners] and I think it was very clear.
“They showed their commitment to the football club and they showed their ambition for the football club because we all want a successful team on the pitch.
“I think it was very clear and it took any doubt out of the situation I think.”
Arsenal face Newcastle at St James’ Park after Thursday’s trip to Spain.