TOOLBOX’S Europa League semi-final is in the balance after a bonkers battle in Spain.
The Gunners handled Unai Emery’s Villarreal and sustained a headache start – falling 2-0 behind within 29 minutes.
Manu Trigueros fired house in the fifth minute before ex-Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol added a 2nd from a corner.
Dani Ceballos made things even worse with a second yellow, however Nicolas Pepe’s converted penalty and Etienne Capoue’s red card imply it is tantalisingly poised ahead of next week’s second leg at the Emirates.
Here’s how SunSport’s Joshua Jones ranked the Gunners.
Bernd Leno – 7/10
The stopper had no opportunity with either objective – especially the first which was drilled low into the corner.
Made a clever stop on the hour mark to limit the damage and after that a crucial save to reject Gerard Moreno when he ghosted in between the centre-backs, which could prove huge by the end of the tie.
A huge performance after his error last week.
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Calum Chambers – 7
The Englishman was once again picked ahead of Hector Bellerin and Cedric Soares and warranted his location.
Got forward well and offered an outlet down the right – but had no one to go for with his crosses – and was strong defensively, too. Headed over from a late corner.
Rob Holding – 5
Provided the captain’s armband once again however might not influence his team to victory. Was obstructed off for the second goal so tough to blame him.
Rather, appeared to spend the majority of his night complaining – normally to the referees – and then altered a picture well broad as the Gunners searched for a foothold.
Pablo Mari – 5
Could not get his head on the corner which wound up in the back of the net.
Did not look commanding at the back as Villarreal managed 6 shots on target.
Granit Xhaka – 5
Oh how Toolbox fans are missing out on Kieran Tierney, who was considered not ready to be involved at all despite taking a trip to Spain.
An ever-so-exposed Xhaka looked terrified as Samuel Chukwueze waltzed his way into the box and set up the opener.
Juan Foyth pushing on also made things difficult, specifically with an absence of defensive cover, prior to hobbling off.
Dani Ceballos – 3
The Spanish midfielder was definitely in the thick of it for Toolbox throughout his 57 minutes on the pitch.
Ceballos stood there like a lemon unable to get a foot in prior to the opening objective, then enhanced as he began finding his passing range and threading some neat through balls.
However currently on a booking for a negative journey and on the edge, he finally did get his foot in – on top of a Villarreal gamer after over-running the ball and off he went.
Thomas Partey – 4
Not at his best in the middle of the park for Arsenal, Partey is missing having Xhaka alongside him.
Main fault was switching off at the back post to enable Albiol to run him and prod home undisputed for 2-0.
Bukayo Saka – 7
Was having a quiet video game by his normally dynamic requirements.
But then unexpectedly a turn of rate into package drew a trip for the penalty which may have changed the tie.
Minutes later on, ex-Spurs guy Capoue went flying in on the teenager and got his marching orders.
Martin Odegaard – 5
Attempted to unlock the Villarreal defence however struggled to make his mark on the game as he has in recent weeks.
Was removed midway through the second half for Gabriel Martinelli.
10 – Nicolas Pépé has been associated with more Europa League goals than any other gamer this season (6 objectives, 4 assists). Lifeline. #UEL– OptaJoe April 29, 2021
Emile Smith Rowe – 5
Similar to Odegaard, could not rather take the video game by the scruff of the neck as he was played in an unfamiliar incorrect No9 function.
Did take a whack and had his knee strapped however fortunately no severe damage was done.
Nicolas Pepe – 8
The Ivory Coast winger was Arsenal’s the majority of unsafe gamer from the first whistle, triggering issues for Juan Foyth.
For the 2nd time in a week, believed he had actually won a penalty at 0-0 however VAR chalked it off for a blatant handball in the accumulation.
Put that dissatisfaction behind him to step up from 12 backyards to stroke it down the middle for a vital away objective.
Gabriel Martinelli – 7
Gave Arsenal a bit more of a focal point in attack after beginning without a recognised striker and looked more threatening when he began.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 6
Came on for Saka with 5 minutes to go and led the line with Martinelli vacating to the left.
Picked up a booking and then almost scored a remarkable equaliser in injury time but his angled shot was saved.
Mohamed Elneny – N/A
Caused in injury time.
Willian – N/A
Likewise began for last seconds.