Gunners to endure more away-day blues

Arsenal’s poor away form could come back to haunt them when they take on Napoli in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie on Thursday.



Away worries could hurt Gunners


The Gunners produced an impressive performance in the first match last week, beating the Serie A side 2-0, but that may not be enough as Carlo Ancelotti’s team have been excellent at home this season.

Arsenal may have won 1-0 at Watford on Monday – but they were handed a goal by a calamitous Ben Foster error and were playing against 10 men for almost 80 minutes following Troy Deeney’s red card – and they have lost at the likes of Southampton, Everton and West Ham United this term.

In the Europa League they have managed to progress to the last eight despite losing away to BATE Borisov and Rennes, while their Italian opponents have only lost one Serie A match in Naples in the current campaign – to runaway leaders Juventus.

Napoli beat Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League at Stadio San Paolo before knocking Zurich and Red Bull Salzburg out of the Europa League.

With the likes of Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Arkadiusz Milik all in rich goalscoring form it is not impossible for Napoli to retrieve the two-goal deficit, particularly if they can grab an early goal.

Napoli, who won 3-1 at Chievo on Sunday, can be backed at 10.00 to win the Europa League this season and at 4.10 to qualify for the semi-finals. The odds on the Italian side to qualify after extr- time seem too good to ignore at 31.00, while they are 41.00 to qualify after penalties.


Slavia no match for cruising Chelsea


Chelsea’s first season under the guidance of former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri may have failed to ignite but they are on the cusp of reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League after beating Slavia Prague 1-0 in the Czech capital last week and remain involved in the battle to clinch a top-four place in the Premier League.

Marcos Alonso’s late goal in the first leg has left the Blues in a very strong position and Sarri is expected to name a much-changed line-up for the second game as he will be only too aware that there are crunch Premier League matches against Burnley, Manchester United, Watford and Leicester City coming up in the next three weeks.

Chelsea have won 10 of their 11 Europa League games this season with Olivier Giroud, in particular, thriving in the competition. The Frenchman may have only scored two goals in the league in 2018/19 but he has found the net nine times in Europe. He is 5.00 to score the first goal on Thursday.

Slavia Prague are enjoying a fine domestic campaign with Sunday’s 1-1 draw against city rivals Sparta leaving them five points clear at the top of the table while they face the same opposition in the semi-finals of the Czech Cup later this month.

Jindrich Trpisovsky’s team have taken some notable scalps in this season’s Europa League, defeating the likes of Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Zenit St Petersburg, Genk and Sevilla in their run to the quarter-finals, but knocking Chelsea out looks to be beyond them.

Sarri’s team can afford to ease through the second leg with another 1-0 victory available at 5.05, while a draw at half- time and Chelsea victory after 90 minutes can be backed at 3.75.


Free-scoring Frankfurt can shock Benfica


Eintracht Frankfurt may have lost last week’s first leg in Lisbon to Benfica 4-2 but all is not lost for Adi Hutter’s enterprising side.

They followed that result up by losing 3-1 at home to Augsburg on Sunday, which ended a sequence of six Bundesliga victories in a row, but they are more than capable of wiping out Benfica’s lead. A 2-0 victory for the German side is available at 8.75.

Eintracht scored 17 goals as they won all six of their group games before Christmas and they have gone on to defeat Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan in the knockout stages. They had Evan N’Dicka sent off in the 21st minute of the first leg in Portugal and trailed 4-1 at one stage but Goncalo Paciencia’s late goal has given them something to work with.

Luka Jovic has scored eight Europa League goals this term, while Sebastien Haller has chipped in with five, and they can get on the scoresheet again on Thursday. Haller is 6.00 to score the first goal and Jovic 5.00.

Benfica teenager Joao Felix was the star of last week’s first leg, scoring a hat-trick for a team that finished third in their Champions League group behind Ajax and Bayern Munich before transferring to the Europa League.

They lead second-placed Porto on goal difference in the Primeira Liga after winning 13 and drawing one of their last 14 matches but may come unstuck in Frankfurt.


Yellow Submarine to sink at the Mestalla


Valencia are in control of the all-Spanish tie with Villarreal after scoring two late goals to win last week’s first leg 3-1.

Marcelino’s team have been very hard to break down this term, particularly at home, and, after making a slow start to the campaign, are currently sixth in La Liga.

They have only conceded 10 goals in 17 league matches at the Mestalla where they have lost just once. Los Che have surged up the La Liga table after losing once since the beginning of January.

They beat relegation-threatened Villarreal 3-0 on home soil in the league three months ago and can be backed at 11.50 to repeat that scoreline this week.

Rodrigo was on target in that game and is 2.40 to score at anytime on Thursday.

Villarreal gave themselves some breathing space in the battle to avoid the drop by winning 1-0 at Girona on Sunday but that was only their seventh victory in 32 La Liga games in what is turning out to be a grim season for them.

With another crunch league match against Leganes coming up this weekend, Villarreal may be more focused on points than progressing in the Europa League.