We could have an all-English final in the Europa League, should Arsenal and Chelsea get their way on Thursday. George Pitts looks at their semi-final second legs.
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Both games are due to kick-off at 2000 BST on Thursday, May 9
Valencia v Arsenal (1-3 agg)
- BT Sport 2, Mestalla Stadium
After Arsenal's top-four hopes were effectively ended at the weekend, Unai Emery has now turned his full attention to winning the Europa League.
The Gunners slipped up in their efforts to qualify for next season's Champions League as they drew 1-1 with Brighton at the Emirates, leaving them three points behind rivals Tottenham with a game to play in the Premier League. They would need results to go their way, with an eight-goal swing in their favour, which explains why Arsenal players looked so dejected at full-time on Sunday.
They can still qualify for the UCL though - by winning the Europa League.
In Emery they have a manager who has won the competition an impressive three times and his side hold the advantage going into the second leg after winning 3-1 last week.
Valencia have a valuable away goal, but they have to go for it at the other end and could leave themselves open at the back, potentially giving the north Londoners the chance of getting one on the road.
An interesting market to look at is the time of the visitors' first goal.
The Gunners have been quick starters in Europe this term, scoring 12 goals and conceding one in the opening half hour of their games and there are some great prices available on them to score early on at the Mestalla.
The clash will by no means be straightforward, but Arsenal can set the tone and take control by grabbing an early away goal.
Valencia are going to want to net early to get something too - a 2-0 result on the night would see them through - and this could leave the La Liga side open at the back. Marcelino's side are strong at home and beat Man United in the Champions League earlier this season and it will be tough for the Gunners.
After a sloppy start last week, Emery got his side to take control and backing them to burst out of the blocks and get on the score sheet is worth a small play.
Prediction: Valencia 2-1 Arsenal (Sky Bet odds: 15/2)
- Five of the previous 28 teams to lose the first leg of a UEFA Cup/Europa League semi-final by 2+ goals have ended up progressing, most recently Espanyol against Club Brugge in 1987-88.
- Arsenal have never been knocked out of a European tie in which they won the first leg by two or more goals, progressing from all 27 previously.
- Valencia are looking to reach their first major European final since the 2004 UEFA Cup, when they beat Marseille 2-0 under Rafael Benitez.
- Arsenal’s last appearances in a European final was in 2006, losing the Champions League showpiece against Barcelona. The Gunners have lost each of the last three major European finals they’ve reached (1995 Cup Winners Cup, 2000 UEFA Cup, 2006 Champions League).
- Valencia have won both of their two previous home games against Arsenal, beating them 1-0 in the 2000-01 Champions League quarter-final and 2-1 in the 2002-03 Champions League second group stage.
- Arsenal have lost their last four away games against Spanish opponents, and are winless in their last seven such games (D2 L5) since a 1-0 win at Real Madrid in February 2006.
- Valencia have lost just one of their last 21 home games in all competitions (W15 D5), though it was their last such game against Eibar in La Liga (0-1).
- Including finals, Arsenal manager Unai Emery has won his last 18 Europa League knockout ties, last being eliminated from the competition in the 2011-12 semi-finals with Valencia.
- Valencia’s Kevin Gameiro has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last 11 starts in home Europa League games, scoring nine and assisting one.
- Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette has scored eight goals in his last 10 Europa League knockout stage games.
When is the Europa League final?
- Date: May 29, 2019
- Time: 2000 BST
- Venue: Baku Olympic Stadium, Azerbaijan
Chelsea v Eintracht Frankfurt (1-1 agg)
- BT Sport 3, Stamford Bridge
Arsenal may be putting their hopes of Champions League football on winning this competition, but Chelsea have the opposite mindset and are free of pressure to secure silverware.
The Blues' victory over Watford put them up to third in the Premier League and they will definitely finish in the top four now, regardless of the final day results.
That means they do not have to have one eye on Sunday's clash with Leicester, going into Thursday's Stamford Bridge tie with full concentration on booking their place in the final in Baku.
They hold a slim advantage after grabbing a vital away goal in last week's 1-1 first-leg draw and you would expect them to see this through.
But Eintracht should not be underestimated - they have been a surprise package in this competition like Ajax have in the Champions League and star striker Luka Jovic is already being strongly linked with Real Madrid.
On the other side, Chelsea star Eden Hazard looks to be heading to Madrid. Whether the Londoners' upheld transfer ban effects that remains to be seen.
The Belgian could therefore be making his last appearance at Stamford Bridge as a Blues player and the odds-against price of 11/10 on him anytime looks simple but too good to pass up.
He may have failed to score in his last seven for Chelsea, but he is due a goal and it cannot be said he is not trying - having seven shots in his last three league appearances and one in his substitute cameo in Frankfurt.
He is likely to start due to the magnitude of this clash and given his tendency to score more often at Stamford Bridge, the anytime price on Hazard is too good to pass up in a match where they are heavily fancied.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-1 Eintracht Frankfurt (Sky Bet odds: 10/1)
- All four of the previous teams to draw the first leg of a Europa League semi-final away from home went on to progress to the final, most recently Atletico Madrid against Arsenal last season.
- Chelsea have been eliminated on three of the last four occasions they’ve drawn the first leg of a European knockout tie away from home, including their most recent two (vs PSG in the 2014-15 Champions League and vs Atletico in the 2013-14 Champions League).
- Chelsea could reach their first major European final since the 2013 Europa League, when they beat Benfica 2-1 under manager Rafael Benitez.
- Eintracht Frankfurt are looking to reach their first European final since the 1980 UEFA Cup, when they beat fellow German side Borussia Moenchengladbach on away goals over two legs.
- Chelsea have never lost a home game against German opponents in all competitions (W7 D2), keeping a clean sheet in seven of their nine such games.
- Eintracht Frankfurt have lost their last four away games against English sides by an aggregate score of 1-11. However, their last such game was at Spurs in 1982.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 16 Europa League games, the longest such run in the competition since it was rebranded in 2009-10.
- Eintracht have only lost one of their last eight away Europa League games (W5 D2), though it was in the last round at Benfica. The German side have scored in all six of their games on the road in the competition this season.
- Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud has scored 10 Europa League goals this season – the last player to score more for an English club in a season in a single major European competition (excluding qualifiers) was Alan Shearer in 2004-05 (11 in the UEFA Cup).
- Luka Jovic has scored nine goals in the Europa League this season – it’s the most goals scored by an Eintracht Frankfurt player in a campaign in a single major European competition.