By News Team
28th April 2021
The Europa League semi-finals are here, and we could be looking at an all-English final if Manchester United and Arsenal can overcome their ties.
Here we preview Thursday’s two semi-final first-leg fixtures below.
Next stop for United the Europa League final?
Manchester United will have to overcome Roma if they are to progress to their first final under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. They have reached this position before – last season when missing out on the final – so the expectation will certainly be high that they don’t lose out again.
As a side, they have been in good form this season and have put together a strong run of unbeaten away performances. However, this will be a tougher test than they have faced so far, but if they play to the standard they showed in the quarter-finals against Granada, then Roma should not be able to overcome the away disadvantage at Old Trafford. The Red Devils are priced at 11/20 to go into the second leg with a victory under their belts, and if they are able to put such a performance in that they are clearly capable of, then that may not look such a short price.
Roma come into the fixture as the 5/1 underdogs and while the Italian club is considered a mainstay of European football, they are currently sitting in seventh place in Serie A and would need a lot to turn in their favour. Paulo Fonseca will, for that reason, know the importance of this fixture on the club’s season and a hard-fought battle can be expected when the Italians descend on Manchester.
Fiesta for Arsenal in Spain?
Arsenal are the second English side left in the competition and if they can overcome Villareal then an all-England final could well be on. However, it would appear that the north London side have a tougher ask than Manchester United.
Arsenal were convincing in the quarter-finals when comprehensively beating Slavia Prague 4-0 in the second leg and they will have to play to that level of form in their fixture here to progress.
The competitive nature of the fixture is reflected in the betting as Arsenal head into the game as 6/4 favourites, and while there’s plenty of noise off the pitch about a possible takeover, Mikel Arteta’s men will need to remain focused on the job at hand. They currently sit 10th in the Premier League and their season has hardly been a romping success, although an appearance in the Europa League final could change all that.
Villareal are currently seventh in La Liga and, like the others that remain in this competition, will have high hopes of using it to drastically improve their season. They head into the semi-final with hosting duties and they can be backed at 15/8. The fixture looks set to be a competitive one and with both sides desperate to take something from it, anything could happen.
Either way, both of these fixtures look like they’ll set things up perfectly for the second legs and ultimately the final.