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Football

Europa League: Arsenal hope to see out tie as Chelsea hosts Frankfurt

Arsenal hold a 3-1 advantage from the first leg. (Agency Photos)

Valencia vs Arsenal (Agg: 1-3)

Estadio de Mestalla, Valencia

Thursday, 09-05-2019 @10pm

Referee: Danny Makkelie

Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) will not play for the club again before moving to Juventus, while Barcelona loanee Denis Suarez (groin), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding (both knee) are also sidelined for the season. Petr Cech is set to start for the Gunners in what could be the very last appearance of a glittering professional career.

Marcelino may opt to make minimal changes to the team which blitzed Huesca at the weekend, meaning that Valencia could start with a back four. Ezequiel Garay may get the nod over Mouctar Diakhaby in the centre of defence, with Goncalo Guedes moving out wide to accommodate the return of Mina in attack.

What they are saying

Unai Emery, Arsenal

“It’s an attractive title and it’s getting more attractive.

“I first competed for this title when it was still the Uefa Cup and was a lesser title than it is now.

“It has grown and I have seen that shift. Giving teams a Champions League place through the Europa League is a fair reward and it’s a title they all want to win.

“It’s an important title for those teams not in the Champions League – and for some who drop into it as a second chance, like Valencia did this season.

Marcelino

“That game demonstrates that anything can happen.

“It’s a lesson that tells us if we play to our maximum we’ll have the chance to make it to the final.

“Every game is different and just because Liverpool beat Barcelona it doesn’t mean we have to knock out Arsenal, but if we do pull it off it’s because we believed we could be in the final.

The Stats

No team has lost the first leg of a Uefa Cup/Europa League semi-final by two or more goals and gone through since Espanyol did it against Club Brugge in 1988. In total, five of the previous 28 teams to lose the first leg of a Uefa Cup/Europa League semi-final by two or more goals have ended up progressing. Including finals, Arsenal manager Unai Emery has won his past 18 Europa League knockout ties, last being eliminated from the competition in the 2011-12 semi-finals -with Valencia. Arsenal have never lost a European tie in which they won the first leg by two or more goals, progressing from all 27 previously. Valencia are looking to reach their first major European final since the 2004 Uefa Cup, when they beat Marseille 2-0 under Rafael Benitez. Arsenal’s last appearances in a European final was in 2006, losing the Champions League showpiece against Barcelona. They have lost their past three major European finals (1995 Cup Winners Cup, 2000 UEFA Cup, 2006 Champions League). Valencia have won both of their two previous home games against Arsenal, beating them 1-0 in the 2000-01 Champions League quarter-final and 2-1 in the 2002-03 Champions League second group stage. Valencia were unbeaten in 20 home games in all competitions (won 15, drew five) – but then lost their most recent match at Mestalla Stadium, 1-0 to Eibar in La Liga on 28 April. Valencia’s Kevin Gameiro has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last 11 starts in home Europa League games, scoring nine and assisting one. Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette has scored eight goals in his last 10 Europa League knockout stage games.

Chelsea vs Eintracht Frankfurt

Stamford Bridge, London

Thursday, 09-05-2019 @10pm

Referee: Ovidiu Hategan

Chelsea have a slight advantage after drawing 1-1 away from home in the first leg.

N’Golo Kante has been ruled out of contest with a hamstring injury, with Sarri confirming the France international faces a battle to be fit for the final on May 29, should Chelsea qualify. Mateo Kovacic is expected to deputise in midfield in Kante’s absence, while Europa League regulars Emerson Palmieri, Willian and Olivier Giroud are in line to start.

Frankfurt, meanwhile, have welcomed back Croatia forward Ante Rebic ahead of the trip to London. His return could see Mijat Gacinovic drop to the bench, while striker Sebastien Haller (stomach) is unavailable.

All four of the previous teams to draw the first leg of a Europa League semi-final away from home went on to progress to the final, most recently Atletico Madrid against Arsenal last season. Chelsea have been eliminated on three of the last four occasions they’ve drawn the first leg of a European knockout tie away from home, including their most recent two (vs PSG in the 2014-15 Champions League and vs Atletico in the 2013-14 Champions League). Chelsea could reach their first major European final since the 2013 Europa League, when they beat Benfica 2-1 under manager Rafael Benitez. Eintracht Frankfurt are looking to reach their first European final since the 1980 UEFA Cup, when they beat fellow German side Borussia Moenchengladbach on away goals over two legs. Chelsea have never lost a home game against German opponents in all competitions (W7 D2), keeping a clean sheet in seven of their nine such games. Eintracht Frankfurt have lost their last four away games against English sides by an aggregate score of 1-11. However, their last such game was at Spurs in 1982. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 16 Europa League games, the longest such run in the competition since it was rebranded in 2009-10. Eintracht have only lost one of their last eight away Europa League games (W5 D2), though it was in the last round at Benfica. The German side have scored in all six of their games on the road in the competition this season. Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud has scored 10 Europa League goals this season – the last player to score more for an English club in a season in a single major European competition (excluding qualifiers) was Alan Shearer in 2004-05 (11 in the UEFA Cup). Luka Jovic has scored nine goals in the Europa League this season – it’s the most goals scored by an Eintracht Frankfurt player in a campaign in a single major European competition.

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