The prospect of an all-English final remains a realistic possibility as both Premier League sides head into their respective semi-final second leg fixtures with something to hold onto. Arsenal go to Mestalla with a 3-1 lead thanks to a brace of goals from Alexandre Lacazette and a late strike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Chelsea, meanwhile, head into the home leg at Stamford Bridge with an away goal in the bag thanks to a Pedro strike that secured a 1-1 draw in Frankfurt.
To have any hope of overturning a two-goal deficit from the first leg, Valencia will need to prolong their excellent run of success in home fixtures – that stands at 11 games unbeaten – in the UEFA Europa League. Having dropped into the competition from the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish side have been in outstanding form and were unbeaten in six matches until they met Arsenal.
Since qualifying for the semi-final, Arsenal have been on an appalling run of form, with only one win (against Valencia) in five games. Arsenal made their only previous UEFA Europa League semi-final appearance last season when they suffered defeat against Atlético. In manager Unai Emery, Arsenal have a coach who has been there and done it before, having led Sevilla to three successive tournament victories between 2013/14 to 2015/16.
Having now guaranteed Champions League football for next season, Chelsea enter this fixture in good spirits. They’re the only unbeaten team in the semi-finals of the Europa League – having won 11 of their 13 matches, drawing the other two – and are on a record unbeaten run that stretches to 16 fixtures. They also boast the tournament’s top scorer in French striker Olivier Giroud, who has 10 goals in the competition.
Eintracht Frankfurt have had an equally impressive campaign, losing just once in 13 matches. They topped Group H (comprising Lazio, Apollon Limassol and Marseille) with maximum points, and then eliminated three teams who had dropped down from the Champions League (Shakhtar Donetsk, Internazionale and Benfica). Striker Luka Jovic has cemented a place as one of European football’s brightest prospects with a breakout season, registering 9 goals as the second top scorer in the Europa League.
Valencia are favourites for a home victory at 9/10 (1.90) with Arsenal 14/5 (3.80) to achieve a win on the road. Given their record in the competition it shouldn’t be a surprise that Chelsea are strongest favourites for a match win with odds of 3/8 (1.37), opponents Frankfurt are 69/10 (7.90) to make the final.
While Valencia are favourites to win the tie, Arsenal are the favourites to make it to the final at 3/11 (1.27), given they can lose and still progress to the final. We can see Valencia beating the Gunners, but not doing enough to progress to the final. We’d back Valencia to win 2-1 at 69/10 (7.90) but find despair as Arsenal ultimately make the final.
Given that this game features the top two scoring teams and top two scoring players, it seems destined for goals. We can’t look past Chelsea for the win considering their outstanding record in the competition, so we’d back Chelsea to win and both teams to score at 9.5 (2.80).
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