No Europa League Semi-Finalist Inspires Confidence


Arsenal v Valencia – 2nd May – 20:00 BST

It is hard to make a compelling case for Arsenal, Valencia, Frankfurt or Chelsea to win their respective UEFA Europa League semi-final first legs on Thursday so one suggests backing both last-four opening games to end all square.

Arsenal has lost three English Premier League matches in a row since completing its UEFA Europa League quarter-final tie victory over Napoli, conceding three goals in each of its domestic losses to Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton and Leicester. Arsenal’s defence is demonstrably not up to the standard associated with title-winning sides – for example, the Gunners have achieved only one English Premier League away clean sheet – and that is one reason why one is very reluctant to back it to beat any half-decent opponent.

Unfortunately, Valencia’s recent results are not much better than those of Arsenal. Valencia has lost each of its last two games and the Bats have drawn an incredible 16 of their 35 Spanish Primera Division matches, primarily because they have not converted enough goal-scoring opportunities.

On collateral form lines through Manchester United, which faced Arsenal in both the English Premier League and the English FA Cup and Valencia in the UEFA Champions League, the Bats rate marginally superior to the Gunners. Arsenal will enjoy home advantage in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League game so that levels the ledger and the early team news features equally disappointing items for both sides.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery’s UEFA Europa League credentials will encourage some punters to bet on the Gunners but the draw makes considerably more appeal and, if you want to go off the beaten track and wager on an exotic market, there are obvious grounds for backing both teams to score.

TOP TIP! – Arsenal and Valencia to draw @ +260   with Bet365

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Frankfurt v Chelsea – 2nd May – 20:00 BST

TOP TIP! – Frankfurt and Chelsea to draw @ +240   with BetVictor

Frankfurt has won nine, drawn two and lost one of its 12 UEFA Europa League matches to reach the last four and the success-starved supporters of Eintracht have embraced the often derided international tournament. But one cannot get enthusiastic about betting on Frankfurt to beat Chelsea because, while Eintracht are fourth on the German Bundesliga ladder with just three rounds remaining, they have not got the better of any of the other sides ranked in the top six. Furthermore, the German Bundesliga appears to have dropped in quality this season with neither Bayern Munchen nor Dortmund reaching the UEFA Champions League latter stages.

Like Arsenal, Chelsea has been stumbling in the English Premier League as four teams scrap over two UEFA Champions League spots. Chelsea has accrued two points from its last three English Premier League games, the jury remains out regarding Maurizio Sarri and the Blues have been very poor on their domestic championship travels – they have visited seven of their fellow top-nine sides and lost to all bar Manchester United, forcing a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

The early team news certainly favours Chelsea over Frankfurt because Eintracht are expected to be without six players, including suspended forward Ante Rebic and injured striker Sebastien Haller. The forecast absences of Rebic and Haller mean Frankfurt attacker Luka Jovic is likely to bear a heavy burden and be the focus of the Chelsea defence’s attention.

One agrees with bookmakers that Chelsea is more likely to win Thursday’s UEFA Europa League match than Frankfurt but one cannot recommend backing the Blues at favourite odds given their inability to record an English Premier League away victory over any side ranked higher than Watford.

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