The Europa League is back on Thursday with Chelsea and Arsenal both in action. We pick out some of our best bets.
Recommended Europa League bets
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Qarabag v Arsenal
Group E, Bakı Olimpiya Stadionu, 1755 BST, BT Sport 2
Arsenal will be aiming to make it two wins from two as they travel to Azerbaijan to take on their domestic champions Qarabag.
The hosts were defeated 2-0 by Sporting in their opening encounter, while the Gunners were victorious over Vorskla.
Unai Emery made changes to his Arsenal side for that win, but it was still a strong outfit and we can expect to see the same away from home.
They should secure three points at a price of 4/9, with over 2.5 goals boosting the odds to 5/4.
Qarabag's home form is very good this season, although Arsenal will pose a much bigger threat than any side they will be play in the Azerbaijan Premier League.
One avenue worth exploring is cards given the referee for this one. Davide Massa, from Serie A, is the man in the middle and he has shown how strict he is already this season.
He's shown 17 yellow cards in just three games, while also coming under criticism for his handling of Inter's 2-0 win over Cagliari.
Newspaper Corriere dello Sport wrote, as quoted by sempreinter.com, that: "It is not the first time and we don’t think it will be the last time, Massa was not able to get control of certain players in terms of discipline."
This could be problematic for both sides here, meaning that we could see more cards shown. That's why booking points may be worth backing based on track record so far.
Best bet: Arsenal to win and over 2.5 goals at 5/4
Qarabag v Arsenal Opta facts
- FK Qarabag have never faced Arsenal previously, though they have played four European games against English opposition – they’ve lost all four by an aggregate score of 14-1.
- Arsenal won four away matches in the Europa League in 2017-18, their joint-most in a single European campaign along with their 2005-06 season in the Champions League.
- FK Qarabag have lost each of their last three games in the Europa League, their worst ever run in the competition.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 15 group stage games in European competition (W11 D3), though it was in their most recent such away game (0-1 vs FC Koln).
- Since the start of last season, 17 different players have scored for Arsenal in the Europa League, at least six more different scorers than any other club (Zenit and Lazio, 11).
Chelsea v MOL Vidi
Group L, Stamford Bridge, 2000 BST, BT Sport 2
It should be a straightforward evening for Chelsea as they welcome Hungarian outfit MOL Vidi to Stamford Bridge.
The visitors sit third in the OTP Bank Liga after a slow start, eight points off the top after just eight games played.
Chelsea should view this game as a chance to boost their goal difference in Group L, not that it should be too crucial at the latter stages, with Vidi conceding four in as many away games.
The concern for the away side is the strong outfit that Maurizio Sarri fielded away at PAOK, with a similar team expected here despite the fact that they are playing weaker opposition.
That could see the likes of Marcos Alonso, Pedro and Alvaro Morata feature, but there is value in backing Victor Moses to find the back of the net.
He has found game time difficult to come by this season, but did play the full 90 minutes in the Blues' 2-1 victory away at Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.
Moses is down the pecking order at the club, but this game will be viewed as one in which he should get minutes, especially considering that fact that he featured last week and came off the bench in their Premier League clash at the weekend.
A best price of 12/5 is available on him scoring, which does look good value when you consider the attacking position he plays and the number of goals Chelsea are expected to score.
In terms of the game itself, Chelsea are heavy odds-on favourites, trading around the 1/12 mark. Vidi can be found at 30s, showing how they are considered to have little opportunity here.
My eye was caught by the price on Vidi centre-back Attila Fiola to score anytime. He's yet to score during his time at the club, but he plays as a centre-back and has started every league game this season.
Complacency might come into it a bit for Chelsea if they are far ahead in this encounter, and the visitors' best chance of striking is most likely to come from set-pieces.
He's 66/1 if you're interested, although I'd say a very small stake if you are considering backing.
Best bet: Victor Moses to score anytime at 12/5
Chelsea v MOL Vidi Opta facts
- This is Chelsea’s first match against MOL Vidi and their first against Hungarian opponents in their entire history.
- MOL Vidi last faced English opposition in March 1985 in the UEFA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United – after a 1-1 aggregate draw, the Hungarians progressed on penalties.
- Chelsea have never lost a single home European match (excluding qualifiers) in a competition other than the Champions League (P35 W28 D7 L0).
- MOL Vidi haven’t won any of their last six away UEFA Cup/Europa League matches, drawing one and losing five since winning 1-0 against Real Madrid in the second leg of the 1984-85 UEFA Cup final.
- Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata had seven shots on MD1, more than any other player – despite this, none of these shots were on target.
Vorskla v Sporting
Group E, Oleksiy Butovsky Vorskla Stadium, 1755 BST
Elsewhere in Arsenal's group, Sporting should keep up the pressure on the Gunners with victory away at Vorskla.
The hosts finished 26 points behind eventual Ukrainian Premier League champions Shakhtar last season, and they are already trailing by nine points after just ten games.
Sporting meanwhile, have lost just one of their six games in the Portuguese Primeira Liga and continue to battle Benfica, Braga and Porto for top spot.
They've won four of their last five games in all competitions, including success over Qarabag in their group opener, and can travel to take on Vorskla full of confidence.
The Ukranian outfit have conceded eleven goals this season, and will need to keep out a Sporting attack that eight goals in their last five.
An away win looks like a good one to back for the coupon at a price of 5/6, but a victory with over 1.5 goals moves the odds up to 13/10 which seems good value based on recent showings.
Vorskla v Sporting Opta facts
- This will be the first ever meeting between Vorskla Poltava and Sporting CP in European competition.
- Vorskla Poltava have come up against Portuguese opposition on four previous occasions, winning just once (2-1 at home to Benfica in 2009) and losing the other three.
- Sporting CP’s win percentage away from home in the Europa League is just 22%, compared to 64% when playing at home. Only six of their 24 victories in the competition to date have come on the road.
- Vorskla Poltava are still looking for their first victory in the Europa League (D2 L5), with three of those seven games coming on home soil (D1 L2).
- Sporting CP midfielder Raphinha was directly involved in both of his team’s goals in their 2-0 victory over FK Qarabag in MD1 of this season’s Europa League (one goal and one assist).