Another massive mid-week European clash as Arsenal host Valencia at The Emirates in their Europa League semi-final first leg tie. After Arsenal swept aside Napoli in the last round, they’ll be looking to put their disappointing domestic form behind them and flourish in Europe again.
After three back to back defeats in the league, it’s looking more likely that’ll they will miss out on a top 4 spot. This puts more emphasis on their European exploits as they look to return to Champions League football next season. Unai Emery may be forgiven for rotating his side in the last few weeks domestically, but you can be assured his strongest XI will be present for the visit of Valencia.
After crashing out of the competition at this stage last season, Arsenal will be looking to best last seasons performance. With a recent Europa League master at the helm in Unai Emery (three consecutive titles with Sevilla), they really look like they have the pedigree to go all the way.
Valencia on the other hand, strolled past Villareal in the quarter finals and will now be looking to this competition as their main chance of Champions League football. Los Murcielagos are in a similar situation to Arsenal, after losing their last two domestic matches they find themselves slipping away from the fourth Champions League spot in La Liga. A little bit of a quirk is that the last time Valencia got to this stage of the competition they were knocked out by Unai Emery’s Sevilla.
Both Mesut Ozil and Nacho Monreal missed the match against Leicester on Sunday and both are doubtful for the clash on Thursday evening. Another big loss for Unai Emery will be Juventus-bound Aaron Ramsey, the Welsh midfielder is out with a Hamstring problem.
Unai Emery does face some decisions to be made in defence, with Koscielny rested against Leicester, he could be recalled to replace Shkodran Mustafi (although the German would be looking forward to facing former club). With Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin on the long-term injury list, the Spaniard will be hoping his side can keep it tight in the first leg.
The possibility may be that Unai Emery decides to take an attacking approach in the first leg and tries to wrestle the tie away from Valencia early on. One way he may go is playing both Aubameyang and Lacazette up top, this has worked to good effect in the Europa League this season.
With regards to the visitors Valencia, both Denis Cheryshev and Geoffrey Kondogbia are not likely to play any part in the first leg, as neither have shook off off injuries in time. With Cristiano Piccini missing the last four matches, Danish midfielder Daniel Wass is expected to fill the right back position.
Francis Coquelin picked up a suspension after receiving a yellow card vs Villareal and won’t feature until the second leg, where a reunion with former club Arsenal will take place. This will force Marcelino into making a change and the most likely replacement is Carlos Soler.
With both teams looking to impose themselves upon this tie, I think the best angle to go down is goals, you can get Over 2.5 Goals (1.90). With Arsenal being the home side and with how easily they despatched Napoli, I think they’ll do the same here in the first leg. You can get Arsenal to Win (2.00).
Combining those two selections, Arsenal Win & Over 2.5 Goals (3.20). I believe this is great value for Arsenal to really pressurise the visitors and take a lead to the Mestalla.
From a goalscorer perspective, both Arsenal strikers Aubameyang (2.20) and Lacazette (2.4) look a good price to find the back of the net. You can combine them for a double paying out at 4.55.
Arsenal to Win @ 2.00
Arsenal & Over 2.5 Goals @ 3.20
Aubameyang/Lacazette Anytime Double @ 4.55