Valencia v Arsenal: Gunners backed to reach Baku

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EUROPEAN football fanatic James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) takes a look at the best betting opportunities from Thursday's Europa League contest between Valencia and Arsenal.

Valencia v Arsenal | Thursday 9th May 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport

This was always an important tie for Arsenal, but failure to beat Brighton at the Emirates on Sunday means they would need something of a footballing miracle to now finish in the top four of the Premier League.

The Gunners would need to beat Burnley at Turf Moor on the final day, rivals Spurs lose to Everton and hope there is an eight-goal swing in the process. Therefore, winning the Europa League looks to be their only potential ticket back into the big time.

The good thing for Gooners fans is they hold a 3-1 lead over Valencia following the first leg, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 91st minute strike last Thursday putting a new complexion on this second leg.

However, let’s not forget that Valencia have a cause of their own to want to make the Champions League. There are two matches remaining in La Liga, and they sit in fifth, but three points behind Getafe in fourth, plus Sevilla in sixth still have a chance as well. It is therefore anything but certain that’ll they make the top four in their own league.

Getafe do have to do to Barcelona this weekend though, but Valencia will still feel as though they can overcome Arsenal at the Mestalla. Beating Huesca 6-2 away from home at the weekend serves as a nice confidence-booster for Marcelino’s side. They’re up against it as things stand, but an early goal would give them real hope.

Arsenal really did let themselves down in not beating Brighton at the weekend. For all that it was a great point on the road for Chris Hughton’s men, the reality was that game had nothing riding on it in comparison to the Gunners. They have made heavy weather of the Premier League for a little while now, so they can only have themselves to blame in that regard.

However, this competition ultimately gives them a second shot at things. I do have the feeling that this could be classed as slightly more important to the North London club compared to Valencia, who do still have two league games themselves to clinch fourth spot. Unai Emery knows this tournament well as we know, and remember they won the first leg of the Napoli tie 3-1, before going on to win 1-0 in Naples.

I backed the first leg to be a little tighter than it was, but a very early goal opened up matters to change the course of things. That could easily happen again, but Valencia certainly don’t need to go for broke too early, knowing they did at least gain an away goal last week. I’ll happily swerve any over or under market.

That being said, there is a goal angle I’d like to get involved in. Both Teams To Score has to be worthy of consideration, certainly if the first leg was anything to go by. You just can’t see Arsenal coming and parking the bus in any way, not at the very least until the closing stages and they still have a lead to protect.

At some stage Valencia will need to commit one way or another, and I just can’t have Arsenal keeping a clean sheet at the moment given their defensive issues. However, why on earth would we back against Arsenal scoring? Only twice in their last 18 in all competitions have they failed to net.

For all their away day issues, they’ve still scored in BATE are the only side they’ve not scored away versus in Europe. Also, they’ve only failed to score in three of their away Premier Leauge matches so far, those coming against Everton, Leicester and West Ham.

So, if we fancy Arsenal to score inside the 90-minutes, I do feel as though that should realistically be enough for them to qualify without needing extra time. Only a 3-1 win for Valencia takes this into an additional 30-minutes, and I’m happy to take my chances at that score not playing out.

Our selection using the bet builder therefore is Both Teams To Score and Arsenal To Qualify (90 Minutes). This is a handy 10/11 shot with Bet365.

Best Bets

Valencia v Arsenal – Both Teams To Score and Arsenal To Qualify (10/11 Bet365)

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