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The two forgotten men hoping to sink Arsenal and Chelsea in the Europa League

Both Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery are facing two men they neglected at their former clubs

Right, enough of all that Champions League nonsense. 

Thursday night football is back and both Arsenal and Chelsea’s seasons seemingly hinge on their semi-final results.

Both managers will be desperate for silverware in their first season but both have familiar faces obstructing their route to Baku.


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Name a more iconic duo…

Getty Images - Getty
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Name a more iconic duo…

For Unai Emery, his eggs have been firmly placed in the Europa League basket.

Arsenal whimpered out of what looked like a promising race for the top four.

The North London side were favourites to get the fourth spot back in March but following April defeats to: Wolves, Crystal Palace, Everton and Leicester, their hopes died an embarrassing death.

It was not a happy April for Arsenal

PA:Empics Sport
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It was not a happy April for Arsenal

The Gunners take a 3-1 lead to the East Coast of Spain.

A lead which, given the results over the last few days, you would struggle to call anything other than dangerous.

When you think of Arsenal’s defence, the 3-1 advantage appears even more flimsy.

Hoping to upset Emery’s apple cart is a former employee from his PSG days, Goncalo Guedes.

How Guedes spent most match days at PSG

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How Guedes spent most match days at PSG

The Portuguese winger has hit some form heading into the semi-final meeting with his former boss.

Six goals and three assists in his last ten games make him one of Valencia’s chief threats.

Guedes’ career, which started so well, struggled to take off under the current Arsenal boss.

Having shot through Benfica’s academy and having been the youngest player to play for Portugal since a spotty-faced Cristiano Ronaldo, eyebrows were raised across the continent with the biggest and best all taking an interest.

One of many stars born out the Benfica academy

Getty Images - Getty
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One of many stars born out the Benfica academy

One January cheque for £25million later and the then 20-year-old was Paris-bound.

For the remainder of the season, Emery only started Guedes twice.

With just one assist and no goals in his short spell and with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar on their way in, Guedes got out and headed for sunny Spain and Valencia – just seven months after signing for PSG.

One man’s trash…

Getty - Contributor
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One man’s trash…

If Arsenal need to win the Europa League, Chelsea – who have already qualified for the Champions League – just want the trophy.

A trophy which Maurizio Sarri says his side deserves.

Ciao Jonathan

EPA
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Ciao Jonathan

A mere 1,400 miles north of Valencia, in London, another forgotten man will be looking to exact revenge on the man he once called gaffa.

And it’s a name which is slightly more familiar on these shores, Jonathan de Guzman.

The former Swansea City man played 23 Serie A games the season before ciggie-mad Sarri took the reigns at Napoli.

De Guzman’s Napoli career was  practically over as Sarri’s began

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De Guzman’s Napoli career was  practically over as Sarri’s began

In the Italian’s first season in charge, the midfielder became the Dutch Danny Drinkwater, making just five league appearances with Jorginho, Marek Hamsik and Allan being the preferred options in midfield.

De Guzman was then unceremoniously shipped off to Chievo on loan the following season.

The midfielder even claimed his treatment was ‘inhumane’ during his time on the South coast of Italy.

Frankfurt took a punt on the 30-year-old and he has been a regular in their midfield ever since.

Can he come back to hurt Sarri?

AFP or licensors
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Can he come back to hurt Sarri?

The German side did not play De Guzman in the first leg against Chelsea, or the recent 6-1 defeat to Bayer Levekusen, so you would imagine he will feature at Stamford Bridge on Thursday night.

While his anger was largely directed at the big bosses at Napoli, dumping his former manager out Europe would leave a sweet taste in the mouth.

De Guzman will see more than one familiar face

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De Guzman will see more than one familiar face

The Europa League is an opportunity for both managers to redeem their hot and cold Premier League campaigns.

Emery and Sarri are potentially two games away from silverware and both are potentially two games away from a failed season.

Both will be hoping that players they once cast away won’t come back to make it the latter. 


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