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Arsenal’s Road to the Europa League Final

Leigh Copson 15 May 2019
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (credit:Carlos Sanchez Martinez/Zuma Press/PA Images)

Arsenal can seal a return to the Champions League by beating London rivals Chelsea in the final of this season’s Europa League, and ahead of this huge all-English showdown we have been taking a look back at how Unai Emery master-minded another run to the final of this competition…

Group Stage Matchday 1 – Arsenal 4 Vorskla 2

Arsenal’s opening night performance left a lot to be desired, but they did run out convincing winners despite a laboured display. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck either side of the half-time and there were further goals from Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil in a 4-2 victory, with the Gunners late lapse in concentration allowing Vorskla to salvage some pride with a couple of late goals.

Group Stage Matchday 2 – Qarabag 0 Arsenal 3

When Arsenal step out onto the turf in Baku it will be the second time that they have played in this stadium. The Gunners visited the Final venue back in October and although they did not produce a performance of the highest level, they did run out pretty comfortable winners. Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Matteo Guendouzi and Emile Smith-Rowe all grabbed their first goals for the club in a 3-0 victory that allowed the North London club to take a big step towards the knockout phase even at this early stage.

Group Stage Matchday 3 – Sporting 0 Arsenal 1

Arsenal and Sporting had both made perfect starts to their group campaign so this was an important match in terms of who would take control. Unlike later on in the season the Gunners had been strong on their travels heading into the match, and they were in fantastic form overall with 10 straight wins in all competitions. They made it 11-in-a-row in Portugal as Danny Welbeck capitalised on a defensive mistake to grab the only goal of the game and put his team three points clear at the top.

Group Stage Matchday 4 – Arsenal 0 Sporting 0

This game was overshadowed by a horrific injury suffered by Gunners striker Danny Welbeck, who had been the match-winner when the two clubs went head-to-head a fortnight earlier. Welbeck had to receive oxygen on the field before being stretchered off in what would turn out to be his last ever appearance for the North London club. As for the match itself, the game ended goalless and that was enough to secure Arsenal’s place in the last-32 with two games to spare. 

Group Stage Matchday 5 – Vorskla 0 Arsenal 3

With a spot in the knockout stage already wrapped up Arsenal could have been forgiven for taking their foot off the gas in this ‘dead rubber’. Unai Emery took the opportunity to blood some of his youngsters in this one and they repaid the manager’s faith with a strong showing that saw them run out 3-0 in freezing conditions. Emile Smith-Rowe netted for the second time this season in the Europa League and after Aaron Ramsey had doubled the Gunners’ lead, Joe Willock wrapped things.

Group Stage Matchday 6 – Arsenal 1 Qarabag 0

Alex Lacazette netted the only goal of the game as Arsenal cruised to victory on the fight night of the group stage, but the big news was the return of centre-back Laurent Kolscielny who had not featured for the first team since rupturing his Achilles during the loss to Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of last season’s competition.

Last-32 – Arsenal beat BATE Borisova 3-1 on aggregate

By the time this two-legged tie rolled around Arsenal’s away form had become very underwhelming, and they put themselves in a spot of bother as Alex Lacazette was sent off in a 1-0 defeat in Belarus. However, they turned the tie round very quickly when the two teams met again at the Emirates Stadium. An early own goal set the Gunners on their way and by half-time they were ahead in the tie for the first time thanks to a Shkodran Mustafi goal. Sokratis Papastathopoulos then wrapped up a 3-0 victory and a last-16 berth when he struck on the hour mark.

Last-16 – Arsenal beat Rennes 4-3 on aggregate

If Arsenal made life difficult for themselves in the last-32, they gave themselves a mountain to climb when they visited France for the first leg of this clash with Rennes. Alex Iwobi gave the Gunners the dream start when he opened the scoring on three minutes, but the wheels came off spectacularly after Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off for a second bookable offence on 41 minutes. Within a minute Rennes were level and by full-time a Nacho Monreal own goal and an Ismaila Sarr strike had given them a two-goal cushion to take to England. Arsenal’s response on their own turf was emphatic though – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ainsley Maitland-Niles both struck inside 15 minutes to put the Gunners ahead on away goals, and Aubameyang then struck again 18 minutes from time as the home side completed a 4-3 aggregate win. 

Quarter-Finals – Arsenal beat Napoli 3-0 on aggregate

Arsenal had made hard work of their previous two ties, so you had to worry for them a little when they were paired with Italian side Napoli in the quarter-finals. A home win in the first leg was vital and they got it thanks to two goals inside the first 25 minutes at the Emirates Stadium, but had they done enough? By this point the Gunners were in truly woeful form away from home so a place in the final four was hardly secure. It was, however, on 36 minutes when Alex Lacazette fired home a free-kick and Napoli offered very little in response. Arsenal were back in the semi-finals and they were facing Spanish opposition again – but would the result be another heart-breaker. 

Semi-Finals – Arsenal beat Valencia 7-3 on aggregate

Arsenal had bowed out of the competition at this stage a year ago and supporters must have been fearing the worst again when Mouctar Diakhaby gave the visitors an 11th minute lead. Alex Lacazette eased the nerves when he equalised seven minutes later and the turnaround was complete when the French striker struck again on 25 minutes. Another goal was vital though to give the Gunners some breathing room before they ventured out to Spain for the second leg and they got it in added time when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got his name on the scoresheet. That late goal was a sign of things to come for the Gabon striker – he produced a clinical display in Valencia as he rattled in a hat-trick and Arsenal completed a 4-2 victory to book their place in the Europa League Final in style.

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Arsenal’s Road to the Europa League Final

We have been taking a look back at how Arsenal manager Unai Emery master-minded another run to the final of the Europa League.

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