Valencia Hopes Home Field Advantage Helps Against Arsenal in the Europa League Semis


Europa League – Valencia v Arsenal – Semifinal Round

After a quick turnaround, Europa League is back with leg two of the quarterfinal matches this week. We’re going to take a quick look at those matchups this week, and after last week’s leg one action, most of the matchups are likely settled, at least per the various odds published around the internet.

Up next, we’re going to take a look at the matchup between Spanish club Valencia and England’s Arsenal. Their leg two match kicks off from Mestalla in Valencia, Spain on Thursday, 9 May at 9:00pm GMT (3:00pm EST).

What Happened During Leg One

Valencia scored first at Emirates Stadium, and it must have made the Gunners upset. Mouctar Diakhaby took just over 10 minutes to get the visitors on the board, but the lead would not last, and Valencia would leave England in a multi-goal hole.

Alexandre Lacazette equalized in the 18th minute, then notched the goal ahead goal less than ten minutes later, but the Spaniards made it to halftime down only one goal. And it seemed that they would escape that way, until Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found the back of the net just after the end of regular time. The match was a little closer than the final 3-1 score would indicate, but Arsenal did what they had to do in their home match of the round.

The Gunners were more accurate when shooting the ball, with six of their 14 attempts deemed on target (with three goals). Valencia, on the other hand, got nearly as many attempts (10), but only got close on three shots, making it awfully difficult to come away with an extra goal. It also didn’t help that Arsenal held onto the ball for nearly 20 minutes longer during the match.

What the Experts are Saying

This matchup was a toss-up entering leg one, with Arsenal being the slight favorite at 51% to advance to the final (according to FiveThirtyEight). With their victory last week, the Gunners have moved to a much stronger position, moving to having a 4-in-5 chance of advancing to Baku at the end of the month, as well as improving their odds of winning the tournament overall.

As the home team, Valencia is favored to win the match outright, and they would need to win by at least two goals to advance. However, if Arsenal can match Valencia’s single away goal tomorrow, it would make the Bats chances of advancing that much more difficult. If Arsenal scores twice, those odds diminish to close to zero.

What We’re Thinking

Valencia has lost only once at home in European competition, and it was back in the Champions League group stage against Juventus. Since they moved over to Europa, they’ve won three straight at home by a combined score of 5-1. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s Europa League success has been mixed: they shockingly lost to BATE Borisov and Rennes in earlier rounds, needing a second leg home match to bounce back in leg two of those matchups to secure advancement.

I think that Arsenal will hold on to advance to the final, and I think it will be an all-England final from Baku on 29 May (I expect Chelsea to win the other semifinal). Either way, expect a lot of goals on Thursday across both matches as Europa League plays its penultimate matches.

Until next time…

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