THE EUROPA LEAGUE quarter-finals conclude on Thursday night as Arsenal travel to Napoli. Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his betting thoughts.
Napoli v Arsenal | Thursday 18th April 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport
Arsenal were dominant in their 2-0 victory during the first leg of this Europa League quarter-final tie last week. That impressive effort at the Emirates – the Gunners won the Expected Goals (xG) battle 2.29 – 0.88 – has seen a variety of models rate the chances of Unai Emery’s outfit reaching the semi-finals at an encouraging 77%.
However, there’s little value to be gleaned in the To Qualify markets with Arsenal trading at a best of 1/4 (Betfred) to progress before a ball is kicked, odds that imply an 80% chance. Obviously, an away goal for the Gunners in Naples could prove crucial and would see their opportunity enhance further.
Speaking after the first fixture in London, Emery claimed the contest is “still 50-50” and in the balance, perhaps aware of the threat posed by Napoli at their atmospheric Stadio San Paolo home. The hosts have W16-D5-L1 here in 2018/19, a sample that includes a richly-deserved victory over Liverpool and an impressive draw with PSG in the Champions League.
Under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti, the Partenopei have only been beaten by Juventus in Naples. The Serie A side have W4-D1-L0 in Europe on home soil, and demolished dangerous outsiders RB Salzburg 3-0 on their own patch in the previous round. There’s enough evidence to suggest we should keep Napoli onside, at least in the 90-minute markets.
History against Arsenal
Clubs that suffered a 2-0 first leg loss away from home in the Europa League have pocketed W12-D7-L3 in the return tie since 2010/11, whilst English teams have managed just W3-D4-L11 at Italian counterparts in this competitions since 2001/02 as eight of those 11 losses came via a margin of at lest two goals.
If we look at Premier League clubs’ performance in the knockout stages at Serie A sides, seven of the most recent nine have ended in defeat, as have 10 of Arsenal’s most recent 16 knockout trips abroad. Indeed, the Gunners came up short at BATE Borisov and Rennes in the past two rounds of Europa League football, highlighting their fragility.
Monday night’s match-up with Watford saw Emery’s troops clinch a much-needed an overdue away success but the guests have W3-D3-L7 on the road since the start of December, including five defeats from their last eight encounters. Even the success at Vicarage Road came via plenty of good early fortune.
I expect Napoli will come out all guns blazing in an attempt to overturn the deficit. I still expect Arsenal to progress but there is still a sense they may regret not killing off the tie at the Emirates and so my preferred play would be to support a home success alongside Over 1.5 Goals for a 19/20 (Ladbrokes) shout.
Napoli v Arsenal – Napoli to win and Over 1.5 Goals (19/20 Ladbrokes)