Mikel Arteta has highlighted Villarreal’s strength as we prepare to visit Unai Emery’s side at Estadio de la Ceramic.
Villarreal pose a great threat in front of goal according to Mikel Arteta. Gerard Moreno is set to lead the line, as the striker is only behind Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema on the La Liga scorer’s chart this season.
Asked what he’s expecting from Villarreal, Arteta said, “Well, I’d say the main thing is the clarity of idea that they have both with and without the ball, and in transition and set-pieces they have very clear ideas and some great connections between the players.
“They have some fantastic individual players in the final third and they can decide a game at any time.
“They compete throughout the game and they also have an ability to change system using either the same players or different players during a game, and that makes them a very difficult to read.”
Pablo Mari echoed the manager’s thoughts as he also pointed out Villarreal’s attacking threat.
“I think we are up against one of the best strike partnerships in Spain perhaps,” the Spaniard said.
“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.
“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.”
Mikel Arteta had earlier mentioned the likely participation of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, David Luiz, Kieran Tierney and Alexandre Lacazette, but it remains to be seen how many will make the squad.
Although the manager has pointed out their importance but he insists they will not be involved unless they are ready.
“We do need them,” he said, “because we know that we have some players that are in contention and they are the ones who can make the difference in a big tie like this.
“But the word risk, I don’t like to put players on the pitch if they can’t perform and they can’t feel secure that they can perform.
“If it’s a risk or we’re going to take a gamble, then I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”