Napoli welcome Arsenal in the 2nd leg of their Europa League clash, kicking off at 9:00pm local time on Thursday. The visitors have a huge advantage, and after winning the first leg by a 2-0 score line, and an away goal in this fixture would mean the hosts would have to score at least four.
Home Team: Napoli
Napoli look set to finish 2nd in Serie A, finishing below the dominant Juventus, but they did have high hopes of winning the Europa League as they have one of the strongest squads left in the competition. However, their first leg performance was close to abysmal, and the only positive to take was that they left the stadium still within the tie. It could have been a defeat of larger margins, but they rode their luck at times, and know that they have to performance substantially better going into the 2nd leg.
At home, Napoli have been a different side in Europe, and that was evident when they beat Liverpool in the Champions League game back in the autumn. This past weekend, Napoli didn’t rest any players as they defeated bottom-of-the-table side Chievo Verona 3-1, with defensive stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly getting two goals.
Away Team: Arsenal
Arsenal’s home and away from is like night and day, as they continue to struggle on the road in all competitions, but their home form is peerless. In the Premier League, only Manchester City and Liverpool have amounted to more points from home fixtures, but they are in bottom half of the table when it comes to away form. In the Europa League, it’s no different as they have recently lost to Bate Borisov and Rennes in recent rounds.
Thankfully, their sumptuous free-flowing attacking way of playing saw them completely outplay Napoli, and earned a much needed 2-0 victory here. They won’t expect to win this match, but a narrow defeat or draw will see them progress to the semi-finals, and would arguably make them joint favourites to win the competition, alongside direct rivals Chelsea. Aaron Ramsey was fantastic once again in the first leg, bagging a goal in the process, and he’ll be missed from this Arsenal side when he leaves to join Juventus in the summer. Can he win a European trophy in his last season?
Head to Head
The first leg last week was just their 3rd ever meeting between the sides, with Arsenal now winning 2 of them, and Napoli winning the other. All the fixtures have ended 2-0 to the home side, and Napoli will hope that the trend continues on Thursday night. No away team has yet to score in this fixture, but as soon as Arsenal do in this game, you’ll have to say it’s curtains for the Italians.[geot exclude_country="US" ][/geot]
Predictions and Betting Tips Napoli vs Arsenal
Napoli are favourites to win on the night, priced at 4/5, with Arsenal at 3/1 to win, and a draw priced at 29/10. To qualify, Arsenal are strong favourites at 1/5, with Napoli at 10/3 to pull off an excellent comeback. Arsenal are not a team to back away from home, so I am going to predict Napoli to win this match, but not by the result that would see them progress. I am going to opt for a 2-1 home win, at 15/2. For a Scorecast, you can add Dries Mertens to be the first goal scorer in that score line, which would boost the odds to 25/1.
Backing an Arsenal player to score first in a 2-1 defeat would almost treble your odds, so for example, backing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score first in a 2-1 score line is backed at 66/1. Finally, some other huge gains for the tipsters, you can hope that the ‘2-0 to the home team’ sequence continues, which would take us to extra time. Betting on Napoli to win after extra time (30/1), Arsenal to win after extra (33/1) or the game to be decided on penalties (33/1) would give you incredible winnings.
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