Despite often having Shkodran Mustafi in their team, Arsenal have kept things pretty tight at the back in the Europa League this season. They haven’t conceded a goal in their last three matches, and have managed nine clean sheets in a total of 12 fixtures in the competition.
That’s a far cry from their Premier League defensive form, although it helps a lot of those games were against the likes of Qarabag, Vorskla Poltava and BATE Borisov. Valencia are a different kettle of fish, and have scored in each of their three away fixtures since they came into the Europa League in February.
However, we’re in the semi-finals now, and this is likely to be a tie that both sides keep as tight as possible. Valencia know Arsenal’s away form is drastically different to their home form, and would be well advised to simply shut up shop in London and pick off the Gunners back in Spain.
For that reason, we’re putting a bit of faith in the home team recording their 10th clean sheet of the tournament.
Although we have a touch of faith in Arsenal holding Valencia goalless, we’re not confident they’re going to run riot at the other end. As we mentioned above, this should be a tight game, and if Unai Emery’s side manage to get on the scoresheet, we’d reckon they won’t do it more than twice.
We think, therefore, that the Under 2.5 total match goals market fits nicely alongside our Away Team Under 0.5 goals pick. The results that will keep us in contention so far are 0-0, 1-0, and 2-0. It’s worth bearing in mind that Arsenal have scored two or more goals in all of their home knockout EL wins, but again, this is a semi-final and Valencia are a step up from their previous opponents.
As has been highlighted on several occasions this season, Shkodran Mustafi isn’t particularly great at football, in relative terms. If there’s a tackle to be rashly dived into, you can be sure Mustafi will oblige.
So far this year, he’s been shown a yellow card on eight occasions, which accounts for roughly 23% of the games in which he has played in all competitions (35). That’s pretty impressive, and you’d have to imagine that if there’s an opportunity for him to build on this record, it’s a European semi-final against his former club.
Odds correct at time of posting.