After a dominant performance in the first leg, when Arsenal won 3:1, they travelled to Spain, where the Gunners once again proved they are a class above their opponents. With a 2:4 win over Valencia, Arsenal got themselves a ticket for the finals of Europa League, and possibly their 1st ever title in the tournament.
Looking back at the first leg match between Arsenal and Valencia, it was the English side who dominated their Spanish opponents. Despite falling behind after the 11th-minute goal from Diakhaby, Arsenal proved once again why they are considered to be one of the best teams in the Europa League. Their potent duo of Lacazette and Aubameyang proved to be too much for Valencia to stop, as they conceded two goals in quick succession in 18th and 26th minute. The 2nd half was no different to the first one, with the only exception being an even more dominant show from Arsenal, who completely outplayed their opponents and scored once more in the dying moments of the match, thus securing a 2-goal lead prior to the 2nd leg.
The 2nd leg match in Spain was expected to be won by the home side, but they once again failed to catch up to Arsenal’s pace. Just like in the first leg, Valencia scored an early goal in the 11th minute, to which Arsenal answered with a goal of their own only 5 minutes later. Despite several excellent chances from both sides, the two mentioned goals were the only two we saw in the first half, which meant Valencia had to find a way to score two more in the remaining 45 minutes if they wanted to advance into the finals. Their plan fell into water only minutes into the 2nd half when Valencia’s defence failed to stop the French striker who already caused them a lot of headaches in the 1st leg. The Arsenal hero and thorn in Valencia’s side, Lacazette, scored once again and got his team 3 goals up in the aggregate score. With nothing to lose, Valencia took on a more aggressive approach and managed to cook up an answer in the 58th minute when Gameiro used the mistake of Arsenal defence, and got his team back to 2 goal margin.
Despite all the attempts from Valencia to catch up to Arsenal in the remaining minutes, they failed short. Instead, it was Arsenal who instead of defending the result kept up the aggression and scored once more. This put them 3 goals up once more with only 20 minutes to go, which more or less sealed the deal for Valencia and their hopes of advancing into the finals. Despite already being an unofficial winner, Arsenal continued with their aggressive playstyle and scored once more, in the 88th minute, which was only icing on the cake of their impressive show in Spain. The match ended 2:4, which meant Arsenal convincingly advanced into the finals with an aggregate score of 3:7.
With a dominant show in the semi-finals, Arsenal seem more than ready for Chelsea, who will meet them in the finals of Europa League on May 29th. The potent duo of Lacazette and Aubameyang played a crucial part in Arsenal successful Europa League campaign, however, they will meet Chelsea’s defence who they know all too well. Will Kepa manage to keep their deadly shots is something we can only speculate, however, we have seen before, even Kepa had a tough time against Arsenal attack, just like Arsenal attack had problems with his incredible goalkeeping. While it’s hard to call out a winner between Arsenal and Chelsea in the finals, we can be sure we will be in for one spectacular match between two English giants who seem to have found their form recently.
Sports journalist, content writer and passionate football lover.