Arsenal vs Benfica| Thursday 25th February 2021, 17:55 | BT Sport
Arsenal must now beat Benfica on the night in Athens come Thursday to book their place into the last 16 of the Europa League.
Arsenal were the dominant team in the first leg last week, but ultimately a draw wasn’t the worst result. The penalty conceded was harsh but fair but conceding that first was a setback. Their response was good however equalising just minutes later under Bukayo Saka.
The debate over whether Arsenal should be travelling to Athens to play a ‘home’ leg here will take some headlines but personally I don’t think it matters too much.
They had all the possession as Benfica looked to sit back and counter, but when they did create chances, they were pretty clear-cut. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang missed an open goal, and later squandered a half-chance.
Arsenal recorded an xG of 1.38 in the first leg in Rome whilst Benfica’s non-penalty xG (where they scored a goal from) was a measly 0.35.
One thing to note from the first leg was Benfica’s incredibly high line as they opted for a three at the back formation. Arsenal were flagged offside 10 times in Rome but the bookmakers haven’t missed a trick there with SkyBet, for example, starting Arsenal’s offside line at 6 which doesn’t appeal.
You have to fancy Arsenal to qualify here, given their superiority in the first leg. Their performance against Man City was far from bad, whereas Benfica are somewhat labouring in Primeira Liga, gaining another draw at Farense last weekend.
Arsenal have seen the money since the market opened and have now moved comfortably to odds-on at 4/5. Sometimes simplicity is key, so Bet365’s offering of Arsenal to qualify and under 4 goals at 20/23 is my pick, from their Bet Builder section.
Arsenal have qualified for the next round in 13 of their previous 16 UEFA knockout ties when either drawing or winning the first leg away from home and I fancy them to progress once again.
By placing this bet we are essentially backing Arsenal in the double chance market but if the tie were to enter extra-time, we would be rooting for the Gunners.
Arsenal vs Benfica – Arsenal to qualify and Under 4 Goals (20/23 Bet365)