Valencia to home in on Arsenal's poor away form

VALENCIA • Francis Coquelin has warned his former club Arsenal that Valencia are ready to exploit their fragility on the road and pull off another stirring fightback in the Europa League semi-final today.

The Spanish LaLiga side, who are owned by Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim, trail 3-1 ahead of the second leg at the Mestalla.

Coquelin, who spent a decade at Arsenal from 2008 to January last year, was suspended for the opener at the Emirates Stadium.

The midfielder believes Valencia are primed to punish Arsenal's soft underbelly - a woeful away record.

Under Unai Emery, appointed in the summer, they have eight losses and only a single clean sheet in the Premier League all season.

Declaring that "away from home, they are a different team", Coquelin said: "They drop the intensity a little bit. That means we can score goals and do damage, especially with the attack that we have."

Valencia have a superior head-to-head record with Arsenal at home, winning their past two meetings. And they have shown themselves capable of a comeback this season too, having trailed Getafe and Real Betis in the King's Cup before beating both clubs to reach the May 25 final against Barcelona.

Pinpointing their away goal as key, Coquelin added: "The team is ready to make a comeback. The goal we scored there helps us a lot.

"It will be a difficult game but, with the quality we have, we believe we can do it. The fans always help us a lot at home."

The 27-year-old left Arsenal after struggling to get first-team football under former manager Arsene Wenger and he has been revitalised this term, having been handed a more creative role by Marcelino.

The Frenchman said: "It would be a very special feeling to win against Arsenal, especially because I couldn't play in the first game."

Like Arsenal, Valencia's hopes of Champions League qualification will rest on winning the Europa League, as they sit three points adrift of fourth-placed Getafe in LaLiga, with two games left.

Chelsea, meanwhile, could extend their Europa League record to 17 unbeaten matches as they host Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt, with the semi-final clash tied at 1-1 after the first leg.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2019, with the headline 'Valencia to home in on Arsenal's poor away form'. Print Edition | Subscribe