Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
We’re rapidly approaching the climax of the 2020/21 Europa League campaign and the concluding chapter to the competition’s semi-finals will be written on Thursday evening.
In Italy, Manchester United take a mammoth 6-2 lead to the Eternal City to face Roma where a professional performance will see the club reach their first final under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
A little further west in London however, the tie hangs in the balance and Arsenal have a deficit to overturn against a formidable Villarreal team led by former Gunners’ boss Unai Emery
With both matches live on BT Sport, punters will be looking to build their very own bets for the semi-finals – and below, we’ve compiled some tips with that in mind.
Roma vs Manchester United bet builder
Arsenal vs Villarreal bet builder
Match result market
Manchester United rebounded brilliantly in the second half of their first-leg tie with Roma last week, netting five times after the interval to blow the Giallorossi away at Old Trafford, and while the return fixture might not be quite as one sided, United are still favourites to win.
Roma – who could be without half a dozen first choice players at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday – need to hunt for goals from the first whistle to spark a miraculous turnaround and United have the counter-punching power to pick them off on the break.
At the Emirates Stadium, in the Europa League’s other semi-final, backing Villarreal in the double chance market could prove profitable. The Yellow Submarine, managed by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, haven’t lost any of their 13 games in the competition this term and they can extend that run against a Gunners outfit that continues to blow hot and cold.
Man Utd’s first-leg tussle with Roma at Old Trafford was unusually open for a semi-final and more excitement is anticipated when the teams reconvene in Italy on Thursday.
The hosts looked threatening in attack at the Theatre of Dreams, though their defending was alarmingly abject and that same combination could produce over 2.5 goals again in the return leg.
In London, bettors are advised to back both teams to score when Arsenal attempt to claw their way back into the tie against Villarreal.
BTTS has landed in six of Villarreal’s last seven matches in all competitions while the same bet has hit the mark in five of Arsenal’s last nine assignments in North London. Both teams got in on the act in Spain seven days ago and goals at either end are on the cards again.
Paul Pogba and Lorenzo Pellegrini were among the stand-out performers for United and Roma in last Thursday’s first-leg, and the evidence presented at Old Trafford suggests that both midfielders are worth backing to register 1+ shot on target each in the teams’ second skirmish this week.
Marauding French international Pogba hit two efforts on target, scoring once against Roma seven days ago, while Giallorossi skipper Pellegrini hit the mark once when notching from the penalty spot in the first half.
In North London, Villarreal hitman Gerard Moreno will hope to be just as central to the action as he was in the first-leg, where the Spanish international was responsible for five of his team’s nine attempts on the night.
Two of those strikes tested Bernd Leno in the Gunners’ goal, and Moreno looks superb value to match his output with 2+ shot on target in Thursday’s crucial second-leg.
Former Man Utd defender Chris Smalling endured a torrid time on his return to his old stomping ground last week, where the 31-year-old was responsible for at least two of the host’s goals.
Smalling was also booked in the second-half during a nightmarish homecoming and the centre-half could struggle to contain the same forward line when he faces his ex-employers again this week. That in turn makes the Roma man a worth candidate in the individual card markets for Thursday.
Gunners’ enforcer Thomas Partey was among the clutch of players carded in the first-leg and the midfielder’s combative streak could land him in trouble with the officials again this week.
The Ghanaian has picked up seven yellow cards in just 20 starts for Arsenal this term, and Partey’s no-nonsense approach could result in him having his name taken again.
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