May 26th will be a big day. Manchester United v Villarreal, the Europa League final.

We had expected it would be an all-English final. Arsenal trailed 2-1 from the first leg, but could only draw 0-0 at The Emirates when a 1-0 win would do.

In some ways this feels like a relief. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been unable to beat Mikel Arteta in three meetings, with United drawing one, losing two, and failing to score in all three.

Arsenal FC v Manchester United - Premier League
(Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

This probably would have evened itself out in the final. United are the superior team, that has shown itself over the course of the season. United are second, 18 points ahead of Arsenal in ninth.

United owed them one, but, losing to the Gunners would have been unbearable, especially considering we are the better side. Anything can happen in the final.

But perhaps, it is better the devil you know?

Europa League specialist stands in our way

Villarreal are coached by former Arsenal manager Unai Emery, who has a history of success in this competition.

 

He won the Europa League three times with Sevilla in 2013/14, 2014/15, and 2015/16.

He did get the experience of losing a Europa League final with Arsenal in 2018/19, being defeated by Chelsea.

The last time Emery took on United in a cup competition, Solskjaer’s United won 3-1. That was a very different Red Devils’ side, with Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku on the scoresheet.

Four previous meetings between United and Villarreal have all ended 0-0. The players will need to prepare for penalties.

Villarreal v Atletico Madrid - La Liga Santander
(Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Players to watch

Villarreal’s main threat is striker Gerard Moreno. He has 26 goals this season, and a further eight assists.

Former Barcelona forward Paco Alcacer is a threat too, he has 12 goals and five assists.

Defensively, Pau Torres is a Spain international who has been linked with a move to United recenltly by the MEN. He will be keen to show what he can do.

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