Home Sports Football Europa League Emery to enjoy good fortune in Naples
Emery to enjoy good fortune in Naples

Emery to enjoy good fortune in Naples


Arsenal may have struggled away from home this season but they have the ability to score in Stadio San Paolo which should be enough to see them past Napoli and confirm their place in the semi-finals of the Europa League for the second campaign in a row.

Only Liverpool and Manchester City have scored more Premier League goals than Unai Emery’s team this term and, for all their supposed defensive frailties, the Gunners have the fifth best defensive record in the top-flight.

Both teams to score in both halves @ 35/4

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang already has four Europa League goals to his name this season and he can add to that tally in Naples. Aubameyang is 9/2 to score the first goal on Thursday while a Napoli victory and both teams to score can be backed at 9/5.

The contrast between the Gunners’ recent home and away form is marked – they have won their last eight Premier League encounters at Emirates Stadium but picked up victories in only two of their last eight away games. One of those was on Monday when they were gifted a goal by Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster and played against 10 men for almost 80 minutes following Troy Deeney’s red card.

They have already lost at BATE Borisov and Rennes in the knockout stages of the Europa League only to progress thanks to their excellent home form.

Napoli were poor in North London last week but Carlo Ancelotti’s team should not be written off as they have been outstanding at home this season where only Juventus have beaten them in Serie A.

However, even though they have plenty of goalscoring options, with the likes of Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Arkadiusz Milik all in fine form, they may come up just short as Emery edges closer to winning a fourth Europa League title following his hat-trick of triumphs with Sevilla.

Chelsea to win in both halves @ 39/20

Chelsea should have few problems progressing to the semi-finals after Marcos Alonso’s late goal in the first leg in Prague ensured Maurizio Sarri’s team beat Slavia 1-0 last week.

Chelsea, winners of the competition in 2013 and 17/10 to repeat the feat this season, have cruised through to this stage of the Europa League, winning five and drawing one of their six group matches and then brushing aside Malmo and Dynamo Kiev in the knockout stages.

Sarri may have been criticised for some of his team’s Premier League performances this season but they remain one of the strongest outfits left in the Europa League and can afford to name a weakened side on Thursday and still progress.

Slavia are the Czech League leaders though and Jindrich Trpisovsky’s team have already beaten Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Genk and Sevilla to reach this stage of the Europa League.

However, there seems little chance of them winning at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are 6/1 to win the second leg 3-0.

Eintracht Frankfurt to qualify in extra time @ 70/1

Benfica teenager Joao Felix may have scored a hat-trick in last week’s first leg but Goncalo Paciencia’s late effort gave Eintracht Frankfurt hope that they can still reach the semi-finals.

Despite losing 4-2 in Lisbon, the Bundesliga side can take heart from the fact that they are still in the tie, despite having played for almost 70 minutes with 10 men in the first leg following Evan N’Dicka’s red card.

Benfica were thrashed 5-1 by Bayern Munich in the group stage of the Champions League in November and also lost 1-0 at Dynamo Zagreb in the round of 16 stage of the Europa League before beating the Ukrainian team 3-0 after extra time in the home second leg.

Adi Hutter’s Frankfurt side had won six Bundesliga games in a row before losing 3-1 at home to Augsburg on Sunday and they picked up maximum points in the group stage of the Europa League, scoring 17 goals in the process, before knocking Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan out of the competition.

They are fourth in the Bundesliga and on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League, quite an achievement following Niko Kovac’s decision at the end of last season to leave Frankfurt and take on the managerial position at Bayern Munich.

Valencia to draw with Villarreal @ 57/20

Valencia, who beat Marseille 15 years ago in the UEFA Cup final, are virtually guaranteed a place in this season’s semi-finals after winning 3-1 at Villarreal in last week’s first leg.

After making a slow start to the season when they found goals hard to come by, Los Che have been excellent recently and have moved up to sixth in La Liga after losing just one of their last 14 games.

Marcelino’s team won one and drew eight of their first 11 fixtures but they have only been beaten once in the league at the Mestalla this term and eased to a 3-0 victory against Villarreal in January.

They have knocked Celtic and Krasnodar out of the Europa League following their pre-Christmas exit from the Champions League and can be backed at 25/4 to beat Villarreal 2-0 on Thursday.

The Yellow Submarine, who were managed by Marcelino between 2013 and 2016, are enduring a dismal domestic campaign after finishing fifth last season and Sunday’s 1-0 victory at Girona was only their seventh win in 32 La Liga games.

They have managed to win just three of their 16 home fixtures and are only two points above the relegation zone with six games of the season remaining.

Villarreal have saved most of their best performances this season for the Europa League. They went unbeaten through their group, which also included Rapid Vienna, Rangers and Spartak Moscow, before recording noteworthy victories over Sporting Lisbon and Zenit Saint Petersburg in the knockout stages.

However, their run in this season’s competition looks set to come to an end on Thursday in what will be their 12th Europa League contest of the campaign and they will then be able to turn their attention towards remaining in the top-flight of Spanish football.

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Mark Race Having worked in the media for nearly 30 years, Mark knows his sport inside out and at all levels. An avid football fan, Mark also has serious knowledge of the tennis world and is quick to point out value bets in a number of other sports.


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