Expect fireworks on Thursday 2nd May 20:00, live on BT Sport. The first-leg of this season’s Europa League semi-finals and the four teams remaining are made up of two from the English Premier League, one from La Liga and a German Bundesliga representative. At this stage of proceedings there’s every chance we could have an all English final, but to achieve that both Arsenal and Chelsea will have to come through tricky ties. Here are our Arsenal v Valencia betting tips.
Man Utd won this trophy recently, dodging the unpredictability of the Premier League top-four and bagging a place in the following season’s Champions League, but the stats come down heavily in support of Spanish representatives, La Liga dominating the winners charts in recent years. Will Arsenal gun-down Valencia to throw the trends off-course? The majority of those who pack the London venue on Thursday will certainly hope so.
Arsenal impressed at the quarter-final stage and have looked a side capable of winning this title for much of the previous rounds. They ended the hopes of Serie A club Napoli by winning both home and away, claiming a vital 2-0 lead at the Emirates in the opening fixture before making sure with an away win, battling to a hard-earned 1-0 on their travels last time out. Lacazette grabbed the only goal of the game that night when bulging the net on 36 minutes and that was enough to send his employers through with a bit to spare. He’s not a man that scores too many on the road but he did pop-up with an important goal that night and everyone connected to the club were grateful for his timing. Goalkeeper Cech, who held on for a couple of clean-sheets, told members of the press his teammates controlled the game.
Strong Start Needed
Valencia face the unenviable task of going to the Emirates knowing they must keep the scores low or, ideally, get a goal of their own to give themselves the best chance of going through. Easier said than done, of course, but the visitors would’ve spotted signs that they can get through this Arsenal defence and if they were to grab an away goal it would stand them in good stead when heading back to Spain for the return. If they can even get their hands on a draw it would make it a straight shoot-out for a place in the final, and they’d be boosted by home advantage. Valencia proudly fly the flag for their nation, but they were responsible for knocking a fellow La Liga side out in the last round.
Paired with Villarreal, a tough match was expected with pundits predicting there would be very little between the teams over the course of two legs – with extra-time and penalties a possibility – but that wasn’t the way the match went, Valencia roaring into a lead at the first opportunity before finishing things off in style. They eased to a 3-1 victory away from home in the first leg and encountered little fuss when playing in front of their own fans, winning 2-0 to end the fixture 5-1 on aggregate. In terms of quarter-final wins, they don’t come much more handsome than that and the performance would’ve injected confidence into the ranks. Grueso banked the opener on 13 minutes, killing things off early, before Parejo put the icing on the cake in the second-half.
There’s Value to be Had
The bookies have had their say in the pre-match betting and it wouldn’t be unfair to accuse them of sitting on the fence. Arsenal are favourites but that has a lot to do with them playing at home and, at the time of writing, there really isn’t an awful lot in the match winner betting. Bookies have put their thoughts out there before moving back and allowing punters to make their minds up on the best bet to have. Ladbrokes offer out an eye-catching 10/11 on the home win and that’s better than we expected to find. The Gunners to grab a first-leg advantage will do for us and that bet will work as part of midweek multiples, or there’s enough there to back it as a super single.
For those who agree with the odds-makers and find this one just a little too close for comfort, you may be interested to learn the draw has been chalked up on the betting board at 5/2 with Unibet. The thinking in the market at present tells us that will be popular on game night with casual backers. It would take a brave punter to get their cash down on the away win, but Arsenal have been seen blowing hot and cold so far this season and it wouldn’t be a complete shock if Valencia were to upset the odds. This is the semi-final of a European competition, remember. There are no weak links left in the chain at this point. Traders at Bet365 are offering a decent 3/1 on the away win and there will be a few happy to take a chance on that for interest stakes.
Take No Both Teams to Score
Thursday will be the sixth recorded meeting of Arsenal and Valencia and you may be surprised to learn the Spaniards have the better of the head-to-head scores. They first crossed paths back in 1980 when playing out a goalless draw in the Cup Winners Cup – Valencia winning 5-4 on penalties – before Arsenal claimed a 2-1 win in the 2001 Champions League, losing the reverse 1-0.
The rivals met again on Champions League duty the next year and it was another goalless finish. The last match ended 2-1 to Valencia in March 2003 in Spain when a double from John Carew cancelled out a reply from Thierry Henry. Those stats push us towards Valencia to qualify to the final but it’s also worth nothing at least one side has failed to score in three of those five games and in two of the last three. Both clubs defended well in the quarter-finals and that leaves us with a bet on no on the both teams to score coupon which is available at even money with Ladbrokes, or Arsenal to win to nil at 9/4 (Ladbrokes), if you prefer to pick sides for a bigger price.