Two of the Europa League’s big guns face off at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday evening as Arsenal and Napoli battle it out for a place in the semi-finals.
With home advantage in the first leg of this quarter-final tie, Arsenal cannot afford to travel to the Stadio San Paolo requiring a victory if they are to match – or indeed better – their semi-final finish of last season.
The Gunners were given a reminder of just how important this competition is to their hopes of returning to the Champions League next season after a defeat to Everton at the weekend once again intensified the race for a fourth place finish in the Premier League.
Unai Emery winning this competition for a fourth time will give them clear passage into Europe’s premier competition next season regardless of how that frantic domestic battle pans out.
Meanwhile, following recent dropped points, Napoli have effectively conceded the Serie A title to Juventus and can now turn all of their attention to the Europa League.
Arsenal cruised through the group stage but have made hard work of their two knockout-stage fixtures thus far, while Napoli travel to London for this first leg on the back of wins over FC Zurich and RB Salzburg.
From a betting point of view, ‘Arsenal to Score Over 1.5 Goals’ stands out as a viable option which BetBiga.com have good odds on. Napoli have already failed to shut out both Salzburg and Zurich during the knockout rounds, so Arsenal, who’ve averaged 2.2 goals overall and 1.85 goals for at home look a decent bet to score at least twice, especially at what appears to be a generous odd at BetBiga.com.
The Gunners and The Partenopei have met just twice before in competitive fixtures when the two sides were in the same Champions’ League group in the 2013/14 season. Both matches ended in 2-0 home victories.
Napoli have however lost seven and drawn one of their previous eight away matches against English opposition, going down to Burnley, Leeds United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and indeed Arsenal.
Arsenal’s victory over Newcastle at the beginning of April marked their tenth successive home win in the league and they will therefore be looking to continue their brilliant home record on Thursday.
Their confidence may have taken a hit however, following their lacklustre defeat away to Everton on Sunday afternoon, where they rarely troubled the home side’s goal.
Gli Azzurri manager Carlo Ancelotti has not been impressed with his side’s recent performances and has warned they will need to improve following defeat to Empoli and a draw at home to ten-man Genoa.
However, before these two disappointing results, Napoli ran out 4-1 winners over Roma. Perhaps the Naples side were guilty of letting their focus slip in the lead up to this Europa League clash, which is now their only remaining hope for silverware this season. It would be smart to put some money on any of both players scoring at BetBiga
Arsenal, quite simply, need a lead to take into next week’s second leg in Italy. The Gunners have been terrible on their travels all season, in complete contrast to their home form. Playing the second leg on home soil would have worked out better for the Londoners, but Emery’s side should at least pick up victory in Thursday’s match.
When we take Napoli’s away-day efforts in this competition and compare them with the efforts of Arsenal in front of a home crowd, it’s not at all difficult to envisage the hosts thriving on Thursday evening. However, betting on both teams to score at BetBiga.com would be a smart idea.
Expect the game to be tight, but to feature some moments of real quality, with Arsenal just about edging it. But to increase your odds it wouldn’t be a bad idea to place a bet on both teams to score.
PREDICTION: Arsenal 2-1 Napoli