Arsenal are into the Europa League final!. This is no breaking news, but fans of the London side are still basking in the euphoria of finally seeing their beloved team play in the finals of a European competition. You shouldn’t be surprised if you notice any Arsenal fan around you acting really excited because it has been 13 years since they last achieved this.
Another reason for their joy could be as a result of the manner at which Unai Emery’s men overcame Valencia at the semifinal stage.
In a season that has been spiced with lots of European comebacks, the Spanish side was well pumped up to overturn a 3 – 1 defeat they suffered in England. They would have been inspired by Liverpool – who came back from a 3 nil first-leg defeat to win 4 – 3 on aggregate – and Tottenham – who defeated Ajax on away goals rule after being 3 – 0 down on aggregate at half-time of their second leg match.
With the 55000-capacity Mestalla stadium filled with home fans who were cheering their players on even before the teams filed out of the tunnel, it seemed like mission impossible for Arsenal to leave Spain with a point, not to talk of three.
It got worse for the visitors when Kevin Gameiro gave Marcelino Garcia’s side an 11th-minute lead as the Gunner’s defence tried to contain the waves of attack thrown at them. A Valencia turnaround was almost certain…., but out of nowhere, Pierre-Emerick Aubamenyang restored parity for Arsenal with a superb volley from the edge of the box.
Arsenal upped their tempo in the second half as they took the game to their hosts. Lacazette spun in the box to rifle a low shot into the bottom corner giving the English side the lead. Gameiro levelled things up for Valencia but that was as good as it got for the boys in white as Aubamenyang added two more to complete his hat-trick and gift Arsenal a 7 – 3 aggregate win.
On a night where the odds were against Arsenal, they showed grit and determination to claim victory away to a side who poured the pressure on them and in a stadium that is known as a slaughterhouse for visiting teams.
Their performance was the type that Gunners fans have been yearning for all season, especially in the Premier League where Arsenal have been woeful away from home.
Hat-trick hero Aubamenyang showed a glimpse of what we have been expecting of him all season, the Gabonese was much more clinical than he had ever been in an Arsenal shirt, claiming the match-ball for the first time in his Arsenal career.
Arsenal will face-off with Chelsea in the Europa League final in Baku Azerbaijan on the 29th of May and we will be expecting more of the same on that day.