Arsenal v Valencia tips: Can Gunners snatch first-leg edge?
After three Premier League defeats on the spin, it looks like Arsenal’s best chance of securing Champions League football next term is by winning the Europa League.
The Gunners will hope to make the most of home advantage versus Valencia tonight, knowing that their away record this season is less than stellar.
But nobody knows this competition better than three-time champion Unai Emery. Can the Gunners boss mastermind a crucial first-leg victory against his former club?
Despite losing to Crystal Palace in their last home game, Arsenal have been excellent for much of the season at home. Our traders go 19/20 about the Premier League side winning tonight.
Arsenal did shut Napoli out for 180 minutes in the quarter-finals, but having conceded nine goals in their last three games, Valencia will fancy their chances of a vital away goal. There’s 8/11 about Both Teams to Score, while 29/10 say Arsenal win with both teams to net.
Arsenal’s trio of league losses has coincided with the absence of Aaron Ramsey. The Juventus-bound Welshman injured his hamstring in the second leg in Naples, and will miss the rest of the campaign.
But Mesut Ozil and Nacho Monreal should return tonight. The latter will slot into a back-three alongside Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis. Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maint-Niles will provide width in the wing-back roles.
It remains to be seen however, what Emery chooses for up front. He could put Ozil in behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, or he could drop one of his strikers and go with wingers Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The visitors are likely to go for a more standard 4-4-2, particularly away from home. Santi Mina and Rodrigo Moreno will carry the goal threat up front.
Winger Denis Cheryshev is injured, while former Gooner Francis Coquelin is suspended. Fellow ex-Gunner Gabriel Paulista will be at centre-back alongside Ezequiel Garay.
Aubameyang has already scored four times in the competition this season, and the Gabon hotshot is favourite to score first at 10/3.
Arsenal will have to watch out for Kevin Gameiro. The Valencia striker isn’t a guaranteed starter, but he’s won this competition three times, helping Atletico Madrid down the Gunners at this stage 12 months ago. The Frenchman is 15/2 to net first and 3/1 anytime.
Where: Emirates Stadium
How to watch: BT Sport 2
View the latest Arsenal v Valencia odds
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication