The Yellow Submarine

I have to admit that I admire Villarreal greatly.

It is a city that has roughly 42,000 residents, and their stadium seats 25,000. That means, the entire town has a passion for the football club, as they do sell out most of the time.

Their manager, the Chilean, Manuel Pellegrini, is a man to be respected. He builds football teams that are fluid, depend on movement, and precise passing to open up teams. He often finds the men to make his system work. Three years ago, he resurrected the career of Juan Roman Riquelme and a similar thing could be said about the career of one Robert Pires.

He inspires players to stick around and perform their best for him. He has persuaded Marcos Senna, a linchpin in the Spanish national side, to stay. He has convinced Santi Cazorla to reject Real Madrid’s overtures. These are no small tasks.

In short summary, he is a man much like Arsene Wenger. That’s also not to say that he’d be a huge success were he to manage a team in the English Premier League. I’ve often said that if Arsenal were in La Liga, we would be even more loved by others. Villarreal is a team that depends on controlling teams on their own terms. Once the tempo is pushed, they can be broken down, especially with their regular central defense partnership injured at the moment.

They have been credited for holding Manchester United to draws, but the key to the game is tempo. We are capable of pushing the ball down the opposition’s throats, moreso in the comfort of the Emirates, but that is the key to the European fixtures.

If we enter the game without fear, without the handbrake, we can be devastating. With the team coming back into form, we’ve seen the ways in which teams can be pried open.

Villarreal’s threats will come from Rossi, Ibagaza, Llorente, and Pires in that order. If you cut off the supply to the strikers, you’re left with a not as mobile Pires and sneaky Ibagaza as the danger men. Senna will impose himself on our team, but that is why our players on the left and right side of the midfield will be key.

Pires is talking his talk. All his words are valid, but they ultimately don’t really matter. It is Marcos Senna who issued the challenge to our team. This is what he said:

“It is true Cesc Fàbregas is an important player for them, but he is coming back from injury and still isn’t a superstar player, as Thierry Henry was at that time.”

Over to you, Cesc.

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