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Europa League Semi-final Previews: Manchester United v Roma & Villarreal v Arsenal

The first leg of the Europa League semi-final ties will be played on Thursday night.

Manchester United and Arsenal are regarded as favourites to progress to the final in Gdansk next month, but Roma and Villarreal will be aiming to spring a surprise on the Premier League duo.

All four teams have not had the ideal preparation after failing to win their recent league matches. Here is our preview for the first leg matches.

Manchester United vs Roma:

The Red Devils are regarded as the front-runners to win the competition and the only prior Europa League winners left in the competition. They will host Roma in the first leg at Old Trafford.

The club are almost guaranteed a top-four spot in the Premier League, and they should be in better shape compared to Roma, who have dropped off in recent weeks.

The Giallorossi are 11 points adrift of the Champions League places after picking up just one point from the last three league matches. They have leaked goals over the past few games, and United are fancied to capitalise on their defensive vulnerabilities.

It will be the seventh European meeting between the clubs. United have had the clear edge with four wins, one draw and just one defeat. The Serie A outfit have lost the last three encounters at Old Trafford including a 7-1 Champions League quarter-final thumping in 2007.

Manchester United 3-1 Roma.

Villarreal vs Arsenal:

Villarreal entertain the Gunners in the opening leg at the El Madrigal. The match will see the reunion of the Gunners with former manager Unai Emery.

The north London club face the prospect of missing out on European football for the first time in 26 years, and this game holds huge significance for them.

They have faced the La Liga outfit on four previous occasions in Europe, and have been on the winning side twice with the remaining games ending in draws. Both teams go into the midweek encounter with just one win from the last four league matches, and it could be a close contest.

The Gunners will be aiming to grab a crucial away goal, and we fancy them to do so. However, a clean sheet may not be assured with their knack of gifting the opposition with clear-cut scoring opportunities through unforced defensive errors. This has become a trend since the turn of the year.

Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal.

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