Arsenal visit Valencia tonight in the return leg of their Europa League semi-finals, and the Gunners hold all the cards heading into the game following their 3-1 victory at the Emirates last Thursday.
With Unai Emery’s side already out of the English Premier League top-four race, winning the Europa League is their only chance of playing Champions League football next season, and qualifying for the finals and winning it is of utmost priority.
Arsenal’s north London neighbours and bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur qualified for their first ever Champions League final yesternight after drawing 3-3 with Ajax on aggregate following a 1-0 first-leg loss, and they will play Liverpool in an all-English final on June 1.
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright couldn’t help but shower deserved praises on Spurs for the massive comeback, and he believes Mauricio Pochettino’s men winning the elite European competition could finally spur the Gunners board into taking necessary and much-needed actions.
Wright, like every other Arsenal fan, knows Emery’s side must win the Europa League for them to have something to brag about in a season their bitter rivals Tottenham could become European champions.
“It’s Thursday morning, Arsenal play tonight against Valencia. Let’s face it everybody, two football matches (Liverpool-Barcelona and Ajax-Tottenham) of supreme wonderfulness whatever anyone says and whatever people think about who’s involved. Supremeness! It was absolutely a pleasure to watch,” the Gunners’ legend said on his official YouTube channel.
“All I’d say now to our guys is listen I’m going through it, you ain’t played yet, you’re about to play, all these “Jermaine Jenas’ I love Spurs, picture what he took”, like the Spurs person he is and stabbing in the back while I’m asleep, with nowhere protecting myself, coming to me on a daily basis, on a minute basis, the only people who can save me are you guys – you guys who are playing against Valencia tonight, we’ve to do it, you’ve to do it for the fans, this is it, this is the cry, this is it, I’m asking you guys, find whatever you need to find, find what the Tottenham and Liverpool players had, and make sure you finish it off. We’ve to do it.
“That result last night has changed the fabric of Arsenal and Tottenham. To be more in-depth about it, they have gone beyond that, we can’t bring it down to Arsenal against Tottenham because they are somewhere else as we speak. The last three years, they have been progressing steadily, and they are now somewhere where they deserve to be. It’s up to us, it’s up to us now Arsenal and Arsenal players. Do it tonight. It has to be done.”
Arsenal can no longer claim to be the kings of north London given their recent struggles on both the domestic and continental scenes, and Spurs winning the Champions League will only further deal a huge blow on their ego.
Winning the Europa League will help soften such a blow, though, and the Gunners can’t afford to make any mistakes in Spain as they look forward to a final showdown against Chelsea or Eintracht Frankfurt.