Villarreal vs. Arsenal: UEFA Europa League betting odds, predictions, expert picks

The Europa League semifinals begin on Thursday with a big-time clash as Villarreal welcome Arsenal to Spain for their first leg. The Gunners will be reunited with former manager Unai Emery,  who now coaches the Spanish club and is just 180 minutes away from another cup final. The Gunners are the favorites and will look to overpower a team reeling from a narrow defeat to Barcelona last weekend.

All Europa League games can be viewed live and on demand on Paramount+. A special edition of “The Golazo Show,” the live whip-around program featuring every goal from every match, will air live on CBS Sports Network and Paramount+ starting at 2 p.m. ET with Kate Abdo along with analysts Jamie Carragher, Roberto Martinez and Alex Scott.

Let’s get to the predictions:

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Villarreal vs. Arsenal

Date: Thursday, April 29 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+

Featured Game | Villarreal vs. Arsenal

Rongen’s take: Appointing Emery as Villarreal manager in July, a triple winner of the UEFA Europa League, so far is evidence of how shrewd that choice was. Pick: Villarreal 2, Arsenal 0

Romano’s take: With so much balance at display here, Arsenal can still come out well from this first match with a valuable result. Speed will be key in this type of match. Pick: Villarreal 1, Arsenal 1

Echegaray’s take: It’s honestly amazing how things turn out sometimes. Unai Emery, Arsenal’s former manager, left the club after much unrest and reported unease among the club and squad. Now, he faces them feeling somewhat vindicated as Arsenal fans know that their club’s issues are far deeper than a manager. Emery loves this tournament. He took Sevilla to three titles and of course, the Gunners to the final in 2018-2019. Villarreal are still fighting for a European place in La Liga, something that is not confirmed, so taking el submarino amarillo to the final will be a key priority. But on the other side, that’s exactly Mike Arteta’s hope as Europe seems even more unlikely for them in the Premier League. As I write this, Alexandre Lacazatte’s absence seems likely and even more for Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, who is meant to return to light training later this week. So that means the young Gunners have to step up. Aside from the wonderful Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe and others, Gabriel Martinelli needs a massive game. I don’t really see it and Arsenal still have to deal with the might of Gerard Moreno. Villarreal haven’t lost at home in this competition and I don’t think it starts now. Pick: Villarreal 2, Arsenal 1

Johnson’s take: Unai Emery comes up against his former club and if there is one guy you do not want to cross in the Europa League, it is the Spaniard. I expect Mikel Arteta’s Gunners to get an away goal, but they will still be up against it over two legs. Villarreal in the driving seat. Pick: Villarreal 2, Arsenal 1

Benge’s take: The Gunners need no reminding of Unai Emery’s excellence in this competition but they themselves have been good travelers in this competition, scoring eight goals in three road games in the knockout stages. Much will depend on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s availability as he battles malaria, though if he is not fit, do not be surprised if young tyro Gabriel Martinelli gets the larger role he merits. At the other end, Arsenal can ill afford their customary mistake with Paco Alcacer and Gerard Moreno waiting to pounce. Pick: Villarreal 1, Arsenal 1

Gonzalez’s take: Unai Emery gets to face off against his former club and gets a rude gift from the visitors as his as the Gunners overpower the Yellow Submarine and put one foot into the final. Pick: Villarreal 1, Arsenal 3

Herrera’s take: Villarreal have dominated against their opposition in the deep stages, while Arsenal have had some lapses. Speed in attack on Villarreal’s top line could give Arsenal some problems. Expect a draw for this one. Pick: Villarreal 1, Arsenal 1

Goodman’s take: Unai Emery’s Europa League magic will be put to the test by an Arsenal squad whose performances over the second half of the season have been significantly better than their results. This match will end with the perfect result to set up an enthralling second leg. Pick: Villarreal 2, Arsenal 1

Thanks for checking us out, and good luck with your picks!

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