Arsenal’s Chance To Redeem Their Season

Preview of this evening’s Europa League semi-final second leg away to Valencia

Responsive image

Former Gunner Gabriel attempts to foil Aubameyang in the first leg

The usual five talking points ahead of this evening’s game at the Mestalla Stadium

A Two Goal Margin First Leg Is Normally Enough…

Yeah, right. The last two evenings have shown us that even a three goal lead in a tie is no guarantee of progress to a European final. Anyone betting on Barcelona or Ajax would surely have had more luck playing pokies online for real money here. Added to which, Valencia did manage to score an away goal. So Arsenal may be favourites to progress, but this tie is far from dead. The only hope is that Valencia are not on a par with the Gunners. Still, recent domestic form has shown us that lesser teams can beat Unai Emery’s team convincingly. It may well be a nervous evening for Gooners. Anyone out there actually looking forward to the game? Thought not.

The Mestalla Is Not A Happy Hunting Ground For Arsenal

The Gunners played at Valencia’s ground twice under Arsene Wenger, both effectively return legs (although on the second occasion it was actually in the context of a group stage, but the match did decide who went through). Arsenal had better players then, who that were winning titles back home. They lost 1-0 in 2001 and 2-1 in 2003. The crowd could be extremely intimidating. Unai Emery’s side need to focus on silencing them, and give them no reason for excitement, certainly less than a visit to would provide. In other words, a repeat of what they managed in Naples in the previous round would do very nicely.

This is Unai Emery’s competition

It’s strange how, in the midst of a disastrous run of results in the league, Emery’s players have delivered in Europe, with three excellent wins on the trot after the aberration in Rennes (partly explained by the sending off of Sokratis). Who knows why, but after blowing their chances of a top four place by taking one point from the last 12, we can only hope that the form shown against continental opposition continues.

A Crumbling Wreck Of A Stadium

Valencia started building a new stadium – the 'Nou Mestalla' back in 2007. And you thought Tottenham’s new stadium took a long time to construct. They ran out of money halfway through the construction and it remains a shell. The original planned capacity was 80,000 but now plans have changed and it is to be downgraded to 54,000… if it is ever completed. The old Mestalla has had a refit in the dressing room area, but for the fans, I am uncertain anything will have changed for the better. The steep rake of the stands means there are bars to lean on in front of the upper tier seats, but the last two times Arsenal have visited, I vividly recall fearing for worse for wear Gooners trying to negotiate the steep steps in the aisles. It makes for a fantastic view of the pitch, but in the event of an away goal, just try and keep clear of the aisles people. You don’t want to be tumbling down these particular steps.

So Who Is Emery’s Strongest Eleven?

From the fit and available players, we’ll see who the head coach rates most highly, with the exception of goalkeeper where Petr Cech, who will play as it’s a cup game. You’d have to imagine he is going to go for a back five. So presumably AMN, Sokratis, Koscielny and Kolasinac are a shoo-in, with the decision on the third centre back between Mustafi and Monreal. The former is at least more familiar with the venue, although Monreal would have played there enough times as a visiting player. As for holding midfield, Emery invariably picks Xhaka so let’s see who gets the nod between Guendouzi and Torreira, with a slim possibility that all three could start. Up front, will he pick both strikers? With the reality that an away goal could help the side immensely you’d have to say so. And then you have one of Ozil, Mkhitaryan and Iwobi in the mix, should Emery not select all three of his deeper midfielders. On recent form, it’s hard to really favour any of them. In the second leg against Napoli, Emery started the following eleven – Cech – AMN / Sokratis / Koscielny / Monreal / Kolasinac – Torreira / Xhaka – Ramsey – Lacazette / Aubameyang. Take out the injured Ramsey and replace him with Mkhitaryan and that’s my prediction for the eleven this evening. Ozil, Mustafi, Iwobi, Guendouzi, Elneny, Leno and Nketiah on the bench.

Arsenal should have enough to negotiate this match and get a result that will take them to Baku. But should and will are two very different things. They had a shaky opening 15 minutes in the first leg a week ago, but then controlled the game. This evening, they need to stamp their authority from the first minute, try and score a goal in the first half and dissipate any hopes in the opposition players and fans, much as they did against Napoli. This could still be a successful first season for Unai Emery, but his players need to turn up. That isn’t a given. Which Arsenal will we get this evening?


The current issue of The Gooner can be bought at the remaining away matches this season. It can also be posted to you (£6 UK addresses, £7.50 overseas) if you wish to buy it through our online store or if you have a PayPal account you can simply send us payment direct click here for our link (although please remember to put the name and address for sending your issue in the message, and if you forget, then email us at to let us know those details)

2019-20 season subscriptions still available!
Having reached our target of 1000 paid up subscribers to continue printing in 2019-20, we are welcoming further subscriptions. For £30 (UK addresses) or £42 (overseas addresses) you receive six x 68 page issues through your letterbox over the course of next season.

There are four ways to pay –

  1. You can pay with a credit or debit card via our online store, click here to get to our subscriptions page. NB – Follow the PayPal process until you get the option to pay by debit or credit card (as opposed to setting up a PayPal account, although you will have to set up a Gooner Store account to capture your contact details for the issues to be sent to you). If you wish to set up a PayPal account, that’s fine, but you should not have to.
  2. Pay £30 or £42 direct via PayPalto this email address: To make this as simple as possible, you can use our link and remember to ensure you leave your name and address in the message. If possible, please make your payment a ‘friends and family’ / personal payment – this helps keep our costs down. Very important – If you forget to enter your name and address in the message field, please email us at to inform us of your postal address, as when paying this way, PayPal does not give us your address details unless you type them out in the message with the payment.
  3. Via online bank transfer, making a payment of £30 or £42 to – 
    Account name: The Gooner 
    Sort Code: 20-76-90 
    Account Number: 03004112
    If you are making an international payment, the IBAN and Bic / Swift codes and bank address are as follows -Swift / BIC code: BUKBGB22
    Iban: GB79 BUKB 2076 9003 0041 12
    Bank address - BARCLAYS BANK PLC Walthamstow 3 Leicestershire, LE87 2BB, England
    Use the reference 1920 followed by your surname. Very important - please follow up the payment with an email to stating your name and address, and the reference that you used for payment (e.g. 1920Smith). Otherwise, we will not be able to match the payment to you.
  4. Via post by sending a cheque for £30 or £42 (if you wish you can download a pdf form to fill in your details by clicking on this link.
    Send your cheques to -
    The Gooner
    12 Buxton Court
    Hanbury Drive
    E11 1GB

NEW! Subscribe to the Gooner news list to stay up-to-date with all the latest breaking Arsenal news.

Please note that we will not share your email address with any 3rd parties.

Article Rating

Leave a comment

Sign-in with your Online Gooner forum login to add your comment. If you do not have a login register here.


  1. Paulo75

    May 9, 2019, 21:21 #113796

    Hallelujah, a performance to be proud of. First 15 mins were uncomfortable but front two Class. Come on Arsenal (and Frankfurt)!

  2. Pauljames

    May 9, 2019, 21:04 #113795

    At last some good news. Well played boys especially Auba and Lac. Clinical tonight

  3. John F

    May 9, 2019, 20:55 #113794

    Well that's cheered me up,the front two were very good tonight.Come on Frankfurt just get one more.

  4. Don Howe

    May 9, 2019, 15:50 #113793

    Pleased to see comments giving Spurs their due. George Graham teaches us that we must not be resentful of Liverpool, we must seek to emulate them. This is proof, if proof were needed, that the French fraud is the worst manager in Arsenal's history, being given the best team in London and reducing it to a poor and impoverished febrile third place. When have we had the guts to overturn a 3-0 deficit in a game against someone serious when it mattered? Liverpool, Man U, Celtic, Villa, and Chelsea have all won the CL, so Spurs winning it before us is scarcely off the agenda. We need to suck up the humiliation, churn it round and spit it out with resurgence. Can we do that under Kroenke? Yes, if some of his valuable money is threatened. We need to lobby from the point of enthusiasm generally, but for ruthlessness if necessary. Sack the fancy dans. As for tonight, Commander Shore was right. We are about to launch...... La Croissant and Obamawang, Sideshow Bob and Kolasinac. Iwobi and Torreira.

  5. mbg

    May 9, 2019, 14:56 #113792

    Yes the spuds wining it doesn't bear thinking about and only a matter of weeks in their new ground (so much for that hampering them) and some half wits are blaming Emery for it all, you couldn't make it up, have they never heard of arsene wenger, a lot of us seen this coming a long time ago.So the wenger cult is still alive.

  6. Bard

    May 9, 2019, 14:55 #113791

    Some great posts. its clutching at straws I know but the spuds success might actually work in our favour. Its clear that they are level or two above us currently and if we dont pull our finger out as a club we will slip further behind. Now we know how Manure fans feel. A very good article posted via Le Grove about how the stats show that in many categories defensively, possession etc we are worse than last year. Over to you Dick.

  7. TonyEvans

    May 9, 2019, 13:55 #113790

    Definitely Stingray Ron - you were probably so bemused after coming back from watching the rubbish The Arsenal were serving up mid 60s you got your Thunderbirds mixed up with Your Stingrays! Now what can we say about Captain Scarlet and Joe 90 to keep our minds off of football! Exiled - great shout re the total farce the so called 'Champions League' has been turned into - not a title between them for a combined 87 odd years!

  8. itsRonagain2

    May 9, 2019, 13:02 #113789

    lads - 'anything can happen in the next half an hour' was Thunderbirds wasnt it? The big frame tower thing used to explode after he said the words. It was Virgil, Scott and Co s prog wasnt it? Stingray was that horny Marina and old eyebrows Troys prog! Thunderbirds used to be on Thursdays nights opposite TOTPs. Used to argue and fight with one of my Sisters over who would have which prog on. Great days!! This is the antidote talking about spuds guys. Far better. John F - Throwbacks indeed. So many of them low life knuckle dragging neanderthal cretins.

  9. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    May 9, 2019, 12:49 #113788

    Sorry Tony - you are right Stingray not Thunderbirds, a senior moment. This CL final is a final that I would like both teams to loose but I think Liverpool will do it, providing Van Dyke plays of course. If Chelsea and Arsenal make it, how likely are EUFA to bring the final back to Wembley? With all the talk of saving the planet surely it would be better for the environment if dozens of planes did n't burn up jet fuel travelling across to eastern Europe.

  10. John F

    May 9, 2019, 12:27 #113787

    You have to feel sorry for Ajax fans just seconds away from the final.O am dreading the worst will happen as we all know the best team doesn't always win the cup it is the luckiest one and the Spuds certainly have had that this time round.Missed City penalty,dodgy goal against City ,Barca playing a reserve side in the earlier round and those Ajax near misses in both legs.Klippity also has a record of losing finals including one against Dick.I have read on other sites that we shouldn't be so upset about the spuds but for me it is the thought of the joy of those horrible fans who are abusive and even violent towards anyone including Children who make the mistake of wearing an Arsenal shirt on the high road.Every other ground in the premiership you would get away with a child wearing your teams colours but not there.Dreadful throwback to the eighties fans.

  11. itsRonagain2

    May 9, 2019, 12:11 #113786

    Exiled - yes, total farce isnt it.agree totally. A. Mag - quite true but they have to have credit for doing the Lorente thing. Hes a slight upgrade on Lord Bendtner for me, but he rattled their kids. They just lost the plot when spuds scored the 2nd didnt they. Like we used to under Wengers project youth days ......oh hang on, we re still at it!!

  12. Exiled in Pt

    May 9, 2019, 11:45 #113785

    Hope our lot turn in a performance tonight but not confident and sorry i cannot say well done to the scum, the thought of that lot winning the CL without winning a title in 58 years , in fact just shows what a complete joke the CL is when the final is between 2 teams who have not won their domestic title between them since 1989/90 .........and yet hopefully the scousers will have won it twice !!

  13. TonyEvans

    May 9, 2019, 11:45 #113784

    Wasn't that Stingray, SKG! I'd rather discuss 60s puppet sci-fi shows than football at the moment! An insipid Arsenal away performance tonight would definitely put the tin lid on what has been an awful week. If it would somehow magically guarantee the Spuds losing in the CL final though I would gladly see Arsenal beaten tonight! Ron's right re Liverpool, much as I am no fan of theirs either, they do deserve something out of the season and I think they will be too strong for that lot down the road. I bloody well hope so anyway!

  14. ArsenalMagna

    May 9, 2019, 11:34 #113783

    @Ron I actually thought Spurs deserved to get thumped by Ajax. Ajax knocked them sideways when it was contested on finesse; it was mainly Hoofspur's decision to play long to Llorente that they actually made any real headway. Admittedly, Ajax defenders had some really bad lapses, but they were still a much better team than Spuds overall, I thought.

  15. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    May 9, 2019, 11:32 #113782

    It's Ron, very good post my friend, the top hat indeed sits nicely on our new stadium, a monument to planned mediocrity. Radford/Kennedy, you are so right about tonight, like the Thunderbirds mantra "anything can happen in the next 90 minutes" and knowing us it properly will.

  16. itsRonagain2

    May 9, 2019, 11:06 #113781

    Calm down lads, its Tottenham. They played really well though didnt they but i thought watching Ajax was like seeing Wengers Arsenal. Gung ho careless football, spaces as big as a house between the centre defenders panic button firmly hit once they conceded and finally the big choke and ultimate defeat. Klopps due a win in a big final and to be honest he deserves it. His football has been great with his teams at both BD and Liverpool. He wont let this slip. Tottenham got lucky to get to the Final as they were poor early in the competition and needed favours from other teams. Last night was their final. My main concern now is Arsenal lowering the tone tonight and showing that PL teams can bottle it big time as well as thrill via their guts and heroism as we ve seen this last 2 nights. Finally, Spurs getting to a CL Final is like the culmination and the top hat being plonked on top of AFCs putrid and feeble decline this last 10 years. Thanks Wengo and Kreonke, you've done us proud!! PS Well done to Spurs though, it was a great away performance.

  17. Radfordkennedy

    May 9, 2019, 10:16 #113780

    My intention to retire to Tenerife in a few years may have to be brought forward to next month after last night's result. As far as tonight's concerned you just don't know what's going to happen as others have mentioned this is 60's Arsenal revisited, we could win 3-1, lose 4-0 or draw 3-3, Whatever happens I have a feeling my stash of Carlos Primera brandy could take one he'll of a beating!.

  18. RobG

    May 9, 2019, 09:40 #113779

    If Wenger was the Manager, I wouldn't fancy our chances. But he isn't - so I do.

  19. Bard

    May 9, 2019, 08:00 #113778

    Too right guys. Last night was a killer. Can you imagine if the Spuds won the CL? It doesnt bear thinking about. Let's hope the team feel the same way as we do and put in a colossal effort. But with the kind of defence we have anything is possible. We probably need to score first to calm nerves.

  20. John F

    May 9, 2019, 07:37 #113777

    What a terrible week sat at home due to miserable weather stopping me from working and trying unsuccessfully to avoid the spuds love in.Valencia warmed up on Sunday by scoring six which doesn't fill me with confidence for tonight.

  21. Pauljames

    May 9, 2019, 07:19 #113776

    This is shaping up to be the worse week I’ve ever had as an Arsenal fan. Please don’t blow it tonight lads !

  22. peter wain

    May 9, 2019, 07:11 #113775

    after last night I have to say I am quite pessimistic about our chances. We seem to have got worst the longer the season with the comic only make average players worst and bad players badder. Lets hope for a miracle but prepare for depression especially if the scum win on June 1.