Monday, December 9, 2019

Prediction: Arsenal vs Valencia

Verdict: Arsenal win and both teams to score

Best Odds: 3/1

Bookmaker: Bet365

Looking to gain an advantage in their Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday night, Arsenal will welcome La Liga outfit Valencia to the Emirates.

Arsenal

Starting with the hosts, coming off the back of a 3-0 hammering away at Leicester last weekend, Unai Emery’s side have really started to stall at the back end of the season. While the Gunners might sit just two points adrift of reclaiming their spot in the top-four, the former PSG boss has now seen his side lose their last three Premier League matches on the bounce and their defensive struggles are becoming a huge concern for fans in North London. Last year’s Europa League semi-finalists have shipped three goals in each of their previous three top-flight matchups. While Emery’s men might be starting to struggle in their pushuit to secure a top-four finish, Arsenal’s best route to securing a Champions League return might be by winning the Europa League outright this year. Coming past Seria A giants Napoli by an aggregate score of 3-0, Thursday’s hosts have won their last three European appearances and have not conceded a goal in this year’s competition in over 300 minutes of action.

Team News

Emery has confirmed that Aaron Ramsey’s Arsenal career is over due to a hamstring injury.

Ramsey is joined on the sidelines by Denis Suarez (groin) and long-term absentees Robert Holding, Hector Bellerin (both knee) along with Danny Welbeck (ankle).

Mesut Ozil is in the squad for Thursday’s clash after missing the 3-0 weekend defeat at Leicester with a bruised foot, while Nacho Monreal also trained following a groin injury.

Valencia

As for the visitors, much like Arsenal, Valencia find themselves in an almost identical situation to the Premier League outfit. While Marcelino García Toral’s side are chasing down a three-point deficit in the race to land a top-four finish in La Liga, the Bats have also begun to show some signs of a struggle at the end of the season. Coming off the back of another sluggish display in their 1-0 loss at home to Eibar over the weekend, they have lost their last two matches on the bounce and Toral will be calling for far more defensive stability from his side. Valencia have now managed to record just a single clean sheet across any competition in their last eight outings, a run that stems back to the start of March. Despite their brief blip at the end of the year, Los Murciélagos have arguably saved their best performances for the European stage. Knocking out fellow Spaniards Villarreal last month, Valencia are unbeaten in their last seven Europea League outings, winning six of those contests.

Team News

Valencia will be without Geoffrey Kondogbia, with the France midfielder having had an operation on the hematoma in his left thigh last month.

Coquelin is suspended, winger Denis Cheryshev has also been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury while full-back Cristiano Piccini is also out.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Arsenal have reached the semi-final stage of European competitions in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1993/94-1994/95, when they ultimately made the finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup two seasons running.
  • This is Valencia’s first European semi-final appearance since 2013/14, when they reached the same stage of this competition before being eliminated by a Sevilla side that were managed by current Arsenal boss Unai Emery.
  • Arsenal have faced Valencia on five previous occasions in all competitions, winning just once (D2 L2), in a Champions League quarter-final first leg in 2000/01 – Valencia eliminated them via away goals.
  • Valencia have won two of their last three games against Arsenal (D1), winning last time out in the Champions League second group stage in 2002/03 at the Mestalla – however, they are winless in two away visits to Arsenal (D1 L1).
  • Arsenal have kept nine clean sheets in their last 11 European games, conceding just four goals in total in that period.

Conclusion

With Arsenal now shipping three goals in each of their previous three outings, the Gunners are clearly still struggling with their defensive issues. Along with Valencia now managing to record just a single clean sheet in any of their last eight appearances, we’re backing the Gunners to come away with an early advantage in what could be a lively encounter at the Emirates on Thursday night.

Verdict: Arsenal win and both teams to score

Best Odds: 3/1

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

SHARE OR COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE

WE RECOMMEND

Leave a Reply

avatar
 
smilegrinwinkmrgreenneutraltwistedarrowshockunamusedcooleviloopsrazzrollcryeeklolmadsadexclamationquestionideahmmbegwhewchucklesillyenvyshutmouth
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Live Scores

advertisement

Betting Guide Advertisement

advertisement

Become a Writer
More More
Top