Michael Owen makes Europa League semi-final first-leg predictions for Man Utd and Arsenal

Owen has made his predictions this week's big Europa League clashes
Owen has made his predictions this week’s big Europa League clashes (Picture: Getty Images)

Michael Owen has made his predictions for the first legs of the Europa League semi-finals this week as Manchester United host Roma and Arsenal travel to Villarreal.

There is the possibility of an all-English final in Gdansk in May but United must get past Italian club Roma, while Mikel Arteta needs to beat his predecessor Unai Emery, who is now in charge at Villarreal.

United play the first leg of their last-four tie at Old Trafford after drawing 0-0 with Leeds last weekend at Elland Road.

Solskjaer is searching for his first piece of silverware as United boss
Solskjaer is searching for his first piece of silverware as United boss (Picture: Getty Images)

But ex-United striker Owen believes his former team will come out with a narrow victory against Paulo Fonseca’s side on Thursday.

Manchester United come into this after playing out a cagey 0-0 draw away to Leeds at the weekend,’ Owen told BetVictor. ‘United are a patient side, especially on the road, and despite getting it right on their travels most of the time this season, they were made to settle for a point on Sunday.

‘Roma suffered a 3-2 defeat against Cagliari, not the ideal preparation going into a Europa League semi-final first leg.

‘That said, I think the Italians would settle for that kind of result here. They’ll be all too aware of how important it is to take a goal or two back to Italy.

‘For all I’ve been massively impressed by United on the road this season, they’ve made a marked improvement on home soil over the last month or so.

‘It’s now 10 home matches unbeaten for the Red Devils, and on a night where I think goals will be at a premium, I reckon it’ll be Ole Gunnar Solkjaer’s side that go into the second leg with a slight advantage.

‘It’s 1-0 Manchester United for me.’

Meanwhile, ex-Arsenal boss Emery faces his former club for the first time since he was relieved of his duties at the Emirates in November 2019.

Emery won the Europa League three times in a row while at Sevilla, and Owen thinks Villarreal will record a 2-1 victory over the Gunners in Thursday’s first leg at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

‘Despite a rather patchy domestic record, Villarreal have been excellent in this year’s Europa League,’ Owen added.

‘The Yellow Submarine have failed to win just one of their 12 matches and won all six of their games played at Estadio de la Ceramica.

‘It goes without saying that the tie carries some extra spice with Unai Emery in the home dugout. The Europa League veteran would love nothing more than to make it to the final at the expense of his former side.

‘For Arsenal, they have won just two of their last eight competitive outings, however, the Gunners’ are unbeaten in seven on the road.

‘I think this could be one of the more open semi-finals in Europe this week, but given the form of the home side, I reckon it will be the Yellow Submarine who go into the second leg with the advantage.

‘It’s 2-1 Villarreal for me.’

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