Arsenal host Napoli in the first leg of their Europa League quarter final tie on Thursday night, kicking off at 8:00pm local time. It’s the tie of the round, as both teams are fancied as one of the favourites to win the trophy in May.

Home Team: Arsenal

Unai Emery’s main objective this season is to get Arsenal back to the Champions League, whether that’s finishing in the top four of the Premier League, or by winning the Europa League. He has won the competition three times in his past with Sevilla, and knows that to manoeuvre a victory in this knock-out tournament. Whilst top four would be a success for Arsenal, winning a European trophy would go down well with the fans who have been starved from that for many years.

In previous rounds, Arsenal have had to rely on their home form to get them out of jail, as they lost away to Bate Borisov and Rennes in the two previous rounds but managed to overturn the deficit in a 2nd leg at home. With the first leg being at home to Napoli, they’ll need to make sure they can take an advantage of some sort to Italy – so a huge performance is needed, particularly after their defeat to Everton at the weekend.

Away Team: Napoli

Napoli look set to win the ‘best of the rest’ title in Italy for another year, as they occupy 2nd behind Juventus. Under the regime of Carlo Ancelotti, they have been terrific for large parts of the season, and will feel hard done by that they were in such a tough Champions League group, as they could be talking about a Champions League quarter final here instead.

However, that’s not the case, and with the league winding down for them, the Europa League is their main priority between now and the end of the season. They come into this match following a 1-1 draw at home to Genoa, but Dries Mertens and co were unlucky on the night. It’s cleary evident that they have enough firepower up front, in addition to their strong defence bolstered by Kalidou Koulibaly, to get a critical result from the Emirates.

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Head to Head

The sides have met just twice in their history, and that came in the 2013/2014 season, in the Champions League group stage. Both scores were 2-0 to the home side, as Arsenal won the first game at the Emirates with goals from Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud scored two early goals. Napoli avenged that defeat on the final match day just a few months later, with Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon getting the goals. Arsenal had the last laugh though, as they progressed from the group, as Napoli were eliminated on goal difference.

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Predictions and Betting Tips

It’s an open match with Arsenal priced at 5/4 to win on home turf. Napoli are at 2/1, with the draw at 5/2. You can also bet on the teams to qualify, with Arsenal at 11/10, and Napoli are at 4/6. Arsenal usually bounce back with a win, and at home, they have a record not many can match. I expect this tie to go down to the wire, even extra time in the 2nd leg, but I see Napoli just edging it.

On Thursday night though, as a one-off game, I’d tip Arsenal to win 2-1 at 17/2. For tips, I’d recommend backing Arsenal to score in both halves (21/10), and also to be winning at half time at 7/4. Finally, for goal scorers, I’d have to back Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score first at 7/2, and for the visitors, it would be wise to put more on Dries Mertens to score at any time, priced at 11/5.

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