Chelsea vs Slavia Prague: Chelsea (-1) – 10/11
A win in Prague last week has more or less sealed Chelsea’s progress to the semi-finals. A banana skin, if there was to be one, would have happened in the Czech Republic, with Chelsea notoriously poor on their travels in 2019.
The Blues have won just twice away from home in the league this year and they happen to be the only two away games they’ve managed to score in as well. Marcos Alonso’s late winner ensured that didn’t happen in the first leg though.
The Czechs are one of the weakest teams left in the competition and they shouldn’t provide too much of a challenge for Maurizio Sarri’s team, who have been flawless at home in Europe.
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Five wins from five at Stamford Bridge in the Europa League make Chelsea overwhelming favourites to stroll through and Sunday’s defeat to Liverpool should offer them even more incentive to do so.
The defeat did not put them out of the running for the top four, but it did highlight that the Europa League is a far more straightforward path into next season’s Champions League.
They should move a step closer to achieving that goal on Thursday night, and with a bit to spare.
Valencia vs Villarreal: Valencia to win – 8/11
Valencia’s two injury-time goals last Thursday have effectively ended this tie as a contest. Relegation-threatened Villarreal have more pressing things to worry about than going to the Mestalla and scoring three times.
Even without the distraction of an impending relegation fight, it is virtually an impossible task. Their opponents have been formidable at home all season, losing just once in all competitions.
Juventus are the only outfit to come away from the Mestalla with a victory this season, with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United all coming up short. With almost no hope of qualifying for the semi-final and a hugely important game against Leganes coming up at the weekend, it’s hard to see Villarreal really going for it.
There is a definite gulf between the two Spanish sides and Valencia are a very attractive price to get the job done and dusted on Thursday.
Napoli v Arsenal: Napoli halftime/fulltime – 7/5
Arsenal’s away form is as diabolical as their home form has been excellent and Monday’s win at Vicarage Road is proof of that. A fluke goal and Troy Deeney’s 11th-minute red card set up The Gunners perfectly for the easiest of victories, and yet, they still laboured to a 1-0 win and were highly fortunate to come away with the three points.
Troubles on the road have been a recurring theme this season, particularly in the New Year. They have lost their two previous away games in the knockout stages of this season’s Europa League too, against the might of BATE Borisov and the even mightier Rennes.
Their away form in the league is also the reason that they are still involved in a race for the top four rather than sitting comfortably in third.
An impressive 2-0 win last week has Arsenal in the driving seat in this tie and, even allowing for their patchy away form, it would take a monumental bottle job for them not to reach the semi-finals.
Having said that, their away from The Emirates is so bad that we do expect them to lose this game to a Napoli side who have one of the best teams in the tournament. The Italians have class throughout their line-up and will look to put pressure on their visitors early on.
An early goal will make Arsenal nervous and might just give Napoli a chance, however slim, of progressing.Find the latest football odds over at paddypower.com
*All odds correct at time of posting.