Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s team selection for this evening’s huge UEFA Europa League semi-final second-leg against Villarreal has sparked a reaction from the club’s supporters on social media.
The Gunners, who enter tonight’s clash at the Emirates Stadium 2-1 down from the first-leg in Spain last week, got back to winning ways in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, defeating Newcastle United 2-0 at St James’ Park.
Goals either side of the half time interval from Mohamed Elneny and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed all three points for Arteta’s charges, meaning they will head into tonight’s clash with Unai Emery’s side with a renewed sense of confidence flowing through their veins.
As well as getting the better of Newcastle over the weekend, the Gunners also kept their first clean sheet in four matches. A clean sheet this evening and a 1-0 win would be enough to send Arsenal to the final of this season’s competition on the away-goals rule, after Nicolas Pepe netted a second half penalty in Spain last week.
To help Arsenal in their quest to secure a trip to Gdansk later this month, they have been boosted by the returns of both Kieran Tierney and Alexandre Lacazette from injury problems.
Unfortunately, however, the duo have only been deemed fit enough to start from the bench and not make the starting line-up.
Bernd Leno, Pablo Mari and Thomas Partey have been named in the starting line-up, as Arteta looks to try and reach his first European final of his managerial career.
As well as Mari and Partey being handed starting berths, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Pepe also start this evening.
Arsenal starting line-up: Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Xhaka; Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Pepe; Aubameyang. Substitutes: Ryan, Okonkwo, Tierney, Gabriel, Lacazette, Willian, Cedric, Chambers, Nelson, Elneny, Nketiah, Martinelli.
Following Sunday’s victory over Newcastle, Arteta has made a total of seven changes to his starting line-up. Rob Holding, Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, Leno, Mari, Partey and Pepe have come into the side, whilst Mat Ryan, David Luiz, Gabriel Magalhaes, Dani Ceballos, who is suspended this evening, Gabriel Martinelli, Elneny and Willian have made way.
Most of the reaction to Arteta’s selection choice has centred around his decision to leave Brazilian ace Martinelli on the bench, despite his impressive performance against Newcastle at the weekend.
Below, football.london has taken a closer look at what some Arsenal fans have had to say on social media in response to Martinelli’s omission from the starting line-up.
Martinelli produced a positive showing against Newcastle at the weekend, meaning his omission from the starting line-up is bound to have angered some Gunners supporters.
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At the same time, however, Arteta could not leave the likes of Smith Rowe, Saka and Pepe out of the side. With that said, the Brazilian will provide energy off the bench if called upon.
You can follow all of this evening’s events from the Emirates Stadium as they unfold on our live matchday blog.