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Will inconsistent Gunners mis-fire? Get Europa League betting tips

Leigh Copson 11 Feb 2019

Europa League last-32, first leg predictions for Thursday, February 14. Can Arsenal put one foot in the last-16 by beating BATE Borisov in this competition for the second season running, and will Chelsea bounce back from their weekend humiliation? Read on for all of our free predictions and betting tips.

BATE Borisov v Arsenal (17:55 GMT)


If the past couple of months have shown Unai Emery one thing, it is that there is still plenty of work to be done if he wants to turn Arsenal into a consistent top-four side once again. The Gunners are just one point off the qualifying places for next season’s Champions League, but over the past couple of months they have been riding a rollercoaster run of form that could derail their season at any minute. There have been the highs of wins over Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, but there have been lows like the League Cup defeat to Spurs, the 5-1 thrashing at Liverpool, the 3-1 defeats to the two Manchester clubs and some shocking losses at the hands of West Ham United and Southampton.

This run has made them a difficult team to predict since the start of December, but we do believe you can back them to win this match with confidence. After all, they have won seven of their last nine home games in all competitions, with Spurs and Manchester United the only two clubs to have won at the Emirates Stadium in that time, and in this competition they have not lost since the ‘dead rubber’ defeat to minnows Ostersunds a year ago. BATE Borisov, on the other hand, have a poor away record in this competition, were thrashed 6-0 here 14 months ago and fell to a 3-1 defeat when they visited Chelsea in the group stage. Their recent form has not been great either so you have to like Arsenal’s chances of winning here, but that ropey backline suggests BATE may score.


Celtic v Valencia (20:00 GMT)


Celtic’s response to their first Old Firm defeat in the Scottish Premiership for several years has been nothing short of clinical – seven wins from seven games with 21 goals scored and none conceded. Spare a thought for St Johnstone, who have felt the wrath of Brendan Rodgers’ side three times during this sequence, twice losing 2-0 in the league before being well and truly hammered 5-0 in the Scottish Cup this past weekend. It has been impressive stuff from the Hoops, but now comes the real challenge in the form of a Valencia side who have lost only one of their last eight competitive fixtures and have already beaten and drawn with Manchester United in the group stage of the Champions League this season. So can Celtic make it eight wins on the bounce with a shock victory?

The Hoops have been flawless at home in the league this season, winning all 13 of their matches at Celtic Park, and we all know that raucous crowd can really play the role of 12th man on big European nights like this one. However, Rodgers’ men failed to beat AEK Athens here in qualifying for the Champions League and during the group stage of this completion Red Bull Salzburg went home with a win, so Valencia have nothing to fear when they arrive in Glasgow. Their visitors’ away form has been patchy, but they have only lost three times on their travels in La Liga and they did only lose to Juventus in the group stage of the Champions League, taking four points off Manchester United. Therefore I am going to back the Spanish side to head home with a first-leg lead. 

Malmo v Chelsea (20:00 GMT)


Will Maurizio Sarri still be holding the reins when Chelsea kick-off their Europa League last-32 first leg clash on Thursday night? That is the big question right now after the Blues’ season hit a new low this past weekend. The recent 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth left Sarri publicly questioning whether or not he could motivate his team, and he may have received the answer on Sunday when they conceded four times in the first 25 minutes and went on to lose 6-0 at Manchester City. And it could have been more. Bookmakers quickly slashed their odds on Sarri being the next Premier League boss to leave his post this season, but at press time the ex-Napoli boss was clinging onto his job. That could all change if the Blues do not leave Sweden with a first-leg lead.

Hosts Malmo would love nothing more than to pour salt in Chelsea’s wounds right now and they did well to progress from the group stage of the Europa League, pulling off a couple of impressive wins over Besiktas on their way to the last-32. Those wins prove that they should not be taken lightly here, but at the same time it has been several weeks since they played a competitive fixture and that will almost certainly mean they are rusty here. So while an away game in Europe is probably not the dream fixture for Chelsea right now, it is not a terrible one for them as they try to put the Etihad horror-show behind them. I believe they will scrape home here and return to London with a first-leg lead.


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Will inconsistent Gunners mis-fire? Get Europa League betting tips

Europa League last-32, first leg predictions for Thursday, February 14.

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