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.
Having witnessed Liverpool and Tottenham’s Champions League success this week, both Arsenal and Chelsea will be desperate to emulate their Premier League rivals by setting up an all-English Europa League Final this evening.
Arsenal, who hold a 3-1 first leg lead ahead of their Semi Final return match with Valencia in Spain, will feel like they have one foot in that Final already – though the unpredictable patterns already weaved by continental football this season should help to ensure that they don’t rest on their laurels.
Chelsea enter their second leg at Stamford Bridge with an away goal following their first leg 1-1 draw in Germany against a dangerous Eintracht Frankfurt side, and the Blues have been made heavy favourites to progress.
Ahead of another compelling night of action in the Europa League, there are plenty of interesting and fun looking betting markets to explore.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of Special Double Selection betting tips for Thursday’s Europa League Semi-Final second legs. Check them out below:
Anytime Goalscorer Double
Olivier Giroud (CHELSEA vs Eintracht Frankfurt) & Goncalo Guedes (VALENCIA vs Arsenal) – 4.5/1
It’s a little unclear whether Maurizio Sarri will opt to deploy Gonzalo Higuain or Olivier Giroud at the point of Chelsea’s attack on Thursday, though the Frenchman’s inclusion in the first leg starting XI in Germany suggests that he will get the nod.
Giroud has been in phenomenal goalscoring form in the Europa League this season, netting an incredible 10 goals in 12 appearances in the tournament to date – a haul that makes him the competition’s current top marksman.
The veteran centre-forward, whose Chelsea future remains uncertain, is priced fantastically at 1/1 with bet365 to register anytime against Eintracht Frankfurt this week.
To complete out goalscorer double, we’ve plumped for Valencia’s flying winger Goncalo Guedes. With 6 goals in his last 10 appearances for the La Liga outfit, the 22-year old Portuguese wide attacker comes into Thursday’s Semi-Final second leg in his best goal-getting form of the campaign.
Guedes recent goal splurge includes a run of 3 goals in his last 4 Europa League starts, and the highly-rated youngster seems to excel in matches of significance for Valencia.
Guedes is priced at 7/4 with bet365 to score anytime against Arsenal at the Mestalla, and with Giroud included, our anytime goalscorer double shoots up to a lucrative looking 4.5/1.
Yellow Card Double
Gelson Fernandes (Chelsea vs EINTRACHT FRANKFURT) & Granit Xhaka (Valencia vs ARSENAL) – 5.75/1
32-year old Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Gelson Fernandes is out on his own as the club’s most ill-disciplined player this season.
Tasked with providing much of his team’s bite and aggression in central areas, the Swiss international routinely draws unwanted attention of referees, and Fernandes has already been cautioned 13 times this season.
The former Man City destroyer was shown yellow in the first leg of Chelsea’s and Frankurt’s Semi Final last week, and with his defensive workload expected to be heavy this evening, we think he looks great value at 5/4 with bet365 to be booked again.
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka will be deployed in a similar role to Fernandes in the Gunners’ crucial second leg contest against Valencia in Spain.
Like Fernandes, Xhaka has already collected 13 yellow cards for Arsenal this season during a campaign where his enthusiasm has often spilled over into recklessness.
Interestingly, Xhaka has been booked 3 times in just 7 Europa League appearances in 2018/19, and 2 of those yellows were brandished in matches away from the Emirates Stadium.
We expect Xhaka to explode past his usual 1.9 tackles per game average against a Valencia side that needs to come out all guns blazing in Spain. That subsequently makes him a great candidate to be shown yellow again at 2/1 with bet365.
Our yellow card double selection featuring Fernandes and Xhaka is available at a cracking looking 5.75/1 with the same bookmaker.
Willian (CHELSEA vs Eintracht Frankfurt) & Alexandre Lacazette (Valencia vs ARSENAL)
Even though 30-year old winger Willian’s 6 Premier League assists this season puts him a considerable distance behind the club’s most prolific domestic chance creator Eden Hazard (15), Chelsea’s Brazilian is the Blues’ chief defence opening expert in the Europa League.
Willian has notched a whopping 7 assists in just 10 Europa League starts this term, a figure that puts him joint top of the pile in the competition for the season alongside BATE’s Igor Stasevich.
Willian’s devastating set piece delivery and ability to beat players in one-on-one situations has demonstrably proved a combination too hot for European defenders to handle, and we think he is priced incredibly generously at 7/2 with bet365 to grab another assist this week.
Approximately 1,000 miles south, Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette will be hoping to put his own creative powers to good use against Valencia on Thursday.
Usually more renowned for his knack of putting the ball in the net, the French forward has been just as adept at picking holes in backlines this season, laying on a club-high 9 assists in all competitions for Arsenal overall in 2018/19.
Lacazette’s ability to thread a pass could prove a potent weapon for Arsenal this week, in a contest where they are likely to be afforded space to spring into on the counter-attack.
You can back Lacazette to push his assists total into double figures for the season at 7/2 with bet365, while our Lacazette/Willian combined tip is available at 19.25/1 odds with the same bookmaker.
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