Arsenal 3 Valencia 1
Eintracht Frankfurt 1 Chelsea 1
An Arsenal-Chelsea final now looks likely.
Arsenal came from behind to win by two goals while Chelsea went to Frankfurt and also conceded early but got a 1-1 draw.
A Diakhaby header put the visitors ahead in 11 minutes but Arsenal had the bottle to fight back and win.
All along I thought Arsenal would play Chelsea at some point because both London clubs clearly had stronger squads than their opponents in the Europa League.
Although Rudiger, Chelsea’s most reliable centreback, is now out for the rest of the season.
The Valencia second leg will be the biggest game of Arsenal’s season and possibly the most testing since Emery took over.
After a handsome victory last night, Emery wasn’t getting carried away. He’s never a dreamer, always a pragmatist. He is taking London’s biggest club to Valencia with a 3-1 lead, but insists, “There it is going to be very difficult.”
We expect all managers to say that. But Emery was very emphatic when he said that. And he knows a lot more about playing matches in Valencia than I do. Or you do.
He’s two matches away from winning a trophy that would get Arsenal back into the Champions League.
Victory in Baku would be his fourth Europa League trophy and he’d get more cash to rebuild his deeply dodgy squad.
Win or lose, Emery will be given time. He’s already changed the culture at Arsenal. The training ground is a different place now. Colney is no longer a crèche where millionaires are pampered and spoiled and ruined.
He obviously needs better players. It’s a question of how soon he can get them and fit them round Laca, Auba, Torreira, Guendouzi and Leno.
When Arsenal didn’t get Monchi, the great sporting director, I wondered why Monchi didn’t come.
We all did. Did Monchi realise that a Stan Kroenke budget will never make London’s biggest club great again?