Can Gunners hold on in Spain?
It’s been a remarkable week for English sides in Europe. After Liverpool and Tottenham’s heroics, can Arsenal keep the run going tonight?
It won’t be easy. After throwing away their chances of reaching the Champions League via the domestic route, the Europa League is the Gunners’ last chance to sit at the continent’s top table next term.
Unai Emery’s men take a 3-1 lead to Valencia tonight, after fighting back from 1-0 down at the Emirates last Thursday.
On paper it’s a solid advantage, but a 2-0 win would be good enough for the hosts at a rocking Mastella. Can the Gunners see the job through, or will their lack of form and away day struggles haunt them yet again?
Arsenal’s situation is laid clear by our all-knowing footy traders. They’re 2/7 to progress and reach the final in Baku by any method, but they’re hanging out at 14/5 to win the game in 90 minutes.
That gives Valencia hope, with the Spanish side odds-on at 20/23 to win the match in normal time, and 5/2 for them to dump the Gunners out tonight.
And given Arsenal have only won two of their last eight away games in all competitions, the hosts will fancy themselves. Valencia need goals, while Arsenal will be out to net an away strike, and that could open the game. There’s 11/5 on a home win and both teams to score.
Aside from the long-term absentees, Emery has a fully fit squad to choose from. But the Spaniard must choose between selecting both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette or just one.
Going with both would increase their chances of nabbing that potentially vital away goal, but equally it could see them exposed at the back. Emery may go for Lacazette’s all-round play, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi in behind to play on the counter, leaving Mesut Ozil on the bench.
Valencia went 5-3-2 at the Emirates, but may go 4-4-2 on home turf tonight.
Santi Mina and Rodrigo both bagged a brace in their 6-2 win over Huesca on Sunday, and should get the nod up front, with Dani Parejo looking to pull the strings in midfield.
Former Atletico Madrid striker Kevin Gameiro is an option, too. Former Gunner Francis Coquelin returns from suspension to bolster the midfield, with Gabriel Paulista at the back,
After a double in the first leg, Lacazette is in fine form and is 6/1 to net first. The Frenchman is just behind strike partner Aubemayang in the betting, with the Gabon hotshot 5/1 to bag the opener.
Parejo is 4/1 favourite to break the deadlock, with Mina at 11/2 after his weekend brace.
In the anytime market, Aubameyang is 13/8 with Lacazette at 2/1.
Where: Mestalla Stadium
How to watch: BT Sport 2
View the latest Valencia v Arsenal odds
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication
This post first appeared here
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