Pablo Mari sends warning to Arsenal team-mates over Villarreal threat and ‘best striker in Spain’ Gerard Moreno

Mari is wary of the threat Villarreal pose
Mari is wary of the threat Villarreal pose (Picture: Getty Images)

Pablo Mari has warned his Arsenal team-mates about the threat of Villarreal and the ‘best striker in Spain’, Gerard Moreno, ahead of this week’s Europa League clash.

The Gunners face a tricky test away at Villarreal on Thursday for the first leg of their crunch Europa League semi-final tie.

Ex-Arsenal manager Unai Emery, now in charge of the La Liga outfit, goes up against his former club for the first time since leaving the Emirates in November 2019.

Moreno is on 26 goals across all competitions this season
Moreno is on 26 goals across all competitions this season (Picture: Getty Images)

With Mikel Arteta’s side currently down in 10th in the Premier League table with just five games left to play, their only chance of silverware left this season is the Europa League.

They will be facing the potent Moreno, who is on 20 La Liga goals for the season – a tally only bettered by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (25 goals) and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema (21 goals).

Moreno and fellow Spanish forward Paco Alcacer have formed a solid partnership, and centre-back Mari is fully aware of their threat.

‘I think we are up against one of the best strike partnerships in Spain perhaps,’ said Mari.

‘I think they are both in great form at the moment so it will be tough.

‘Gerard Moreno is doing fantastically, I think he’s the best striker in Spain at the moment. Paco is doing great work too. They are different players, they both have their own attributes and we are going to be very alert to their movement and their playing style.

‘But at the same time I think we have some great things going on for us too. I am expecting it to be a tough game, I am sure they will do everything they can to score goals so we need to be on guard.’

‘First of all we know how important the game is tomorrow, we know who we are up against, Villarreal have been doing great things for a long time now,’ he added.

‘The coach, the club, they are all in a very good place right now. Let’s not forget that they have a very strong squad with international players, they have a world champion in their ranks too, we are aware of that but at the same time we are aware of who we are and the team we have.

‘In my eyes, it will be a fascinating game to watch but we need to remember it is not a 90-minute game, it is a 180-minute tie and I think the team that manages those 180 minutes the best is the one that will get through to the final.’

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