- Big week coming up in the UEFA Europa League
- Arsenal’s fine home form could be key
- Both teams in poor league form
The Europa League reaches its semifinal stage this Thursday with first leg ties in London and Frankfurt.
While Chelsea head to Germany to lock horns with Eintracht, Arsenal entertain Valencia at the Emirates Stadium, in north London on Thursday, May 2, 2019, 3:00 pm EST.
Arsenal vs Valencia Leg 1 – Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline||Total||Odds To Qualify|
|Arsenal||-1/2 (-111)||-111||O 2.5 (-106)||-145|
|Valencia||+1/2 (-109)||+265||U 2.5 (-114)||+115|
*Odds taken on April 29, 2019
The bookies fancy Arsenal – known as the Gunners – to edge a tight first-leg battle but only just, and with good reason. There is little to choose between these, even down to their league positions in their respective leagues.
Both are still battling for places near the top end of their divisions without being anything like in a position to win them.
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 29, 2019
Arsenal are still in the hunt for one of the remaining Champions League spots for next season. They’re currently in a four-way battle with Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester Utd – while Valencia’s position is a little more precarious in that they have a sniff of a Champions League place, but could also miss out on a place in next season’s Europa League.
What the Gunners do have in their favor is an outstanding run of home form in the knockout stages of this season’s Europa League.
What the Gunners do have in their favor is an outstanding run of home form in the knockout stages of this season’s Europa League, which in three games yielded an aggregate score of 8-0, including wins over Napoli and Rennes.
Missing this place already? ?
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 24, 2019
Arsenal also cruised through the group stages, keeping clean sheets in five of their six games. They only dropped two points along the way, when they drew 0-0 at home to 0-0 with Sporting Lisbon.
Their away form hasn’t been quite as good – away defeats to Bate Borisov and Rennes needed some Emirates magic to remedy the situation – but in north London, their form has been simply sensational.
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) April 11, 2019
Valencia’s route to the last four of this competition has been rather different to Arsenal’s in that they were initially in the Champions League, but by virtue of finishing third in their group were redirected to the Europa League.
They were, however, far from disgraced in their Champions League pool, and took four points off Manchester United in the process.
They were undone, however, by home and away defeats to Juventus, which was unfortunate as they had shown quality befitting the elite competition.
Los Ches, despite the disappointment of dropping into the Europa League, have prospered in this competition and hit the ground running with a 3-0 aggregate victory over Celtic.
They followed this up with a 5-2 aggregate win over a strong Zenit St. Petersburg team, before clinching their place in the semifinal with impressive 3-1 and 2-0 wins over compatriots Villarreal.
Valencia 1-0 Celtic (3-0 agg) – Europa League round of 32
Player ratings ✅
Opta stats ✅
Ten-man Celtic knocked out of Europa League after second-leg defeat in Spain:
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) February 22, 2019
Spanish teams have, in general, enjoyed considerable success in this competition and if Valencia get to the final and win the trophy, it will be their country’s tenth Europa League triumph in 16 years – Los Ches picking up the trophy themselves in 2004.
They have also qualified for this season’s Copa del Rey final, in which they play Barcelona.
Arsenal vs Valencia Europa League Stats
|9/12||Number of wins in 2019 UEL / Number of games||5/6|
|22/1.83||Number of goals scored in 2019 UEL / Per game||11/1.83|
|6/0.5||Number of goals conceded in 2019 UEL / Per game||3/0.5|
|150/12.5||Total goal attempts in 2019 UCL / Per game||47/7.83|
|5691/85%||Total passes completed (UEL 2019) / Pass completion||2355/84%|
|27.5||Average age of squad||26.4|
In their head-to-heads – there have been five – Valencia hold the balance of power with three wins, while the Gunners have won just once.
Expect a Tight One in Islington
Interestingly, despite being involved in battles for the European places in their domestic leagues, both are in the midst of a poor run of form – maybe in part due to their involvement in this competition.
So we should expect a nervy cautious night in Islington, with both teams keen to still be in the tie ahead of the second leg in Spain.
New week, new challenge.
— Valencia CF?? #AMUNTHome ? (@valenciacf_en) April 29, 2019
We think that Arsenal’s home form in the Europa league may be the thing that tilts the balance in the Gunners’ favor and the stats above show that. In this competition, they have on average over four shots per game more than their Spanish opponents.
Also, with their strike pairing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette enjoying this tournament immensely, we think Arsenal will have too much for Valencia on the night, giving them a two-goal lead ahead of the return leg.
Our pick: Arsenal 2-0
Let's have fun and keep it civil.