Europa League 2019-20 Betting Preview : Arsenal can go one better than last year
- 19 Sep - 27 May
- Live on BT Sport
The Thursday night slog of the Europa League begins for the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Wolves this week, with every team aiming for the prize of lifting the trophy next May and securing themselves a spot in next season’s Champions League.
The competition has become all the more important since a place in the Champions League was dished out to the winner, and not just any old place, a position in Pot One of the group stage draw. For the three English teams involved, two of which have a big task on their hands to qualify through league position, and one which is extremely unlikely, this is a great route back into the big leagues.
Manchester United are, somewhat surprisingly, the clear favourites to win the Europa League this season, followed by Arsenal and then there is a big leap to the next closest challengers. It is not entirely shocking given the stature of the Red Devils, but there are serious questions over whether they can mount a proper challenge in this tournament.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chose to let a number of big players leave over the summer, most notably Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, without really replacing them. Dan James came in to bolster the forward line, but they look really thin up top. The rigours of the Premier League and Europa League combined will make it very difficult to keep their preferred starting front three together, and after James, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, there is little else to come.
In fact United look fairly thin throughout their squad. Already this season Ashley Young is filling in at left-back again, Andreas Pereira is regularly starting games, their substitute’s bench is almost entirely teenagers. United look a proposition when their best team is out and are on song, but the young squad does not have the tools to compete on two fronts yet.
The Gunners are a much better bet
Of the two most likely English teams, Arsenal are the much more appealing prospect and it is slightly odd they are less fancied than United. In Unai Emery they have a manager who is vastly experienced in the competition, winning the tournament three times with Sevilla and reaching the final with the Gunners last season.
While Emery, like Solskjaer, is not blessed with the deepest squad, he does appear to have more options at his disposal than the United boss, when a number of his players return from injury. Arsenal started the season with a number of injuries, particularly in defence – Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney – but all will return during the group stages and make a big impact for the Gunners. Emery has a huge amount of attacking talent at his disposal and if these returning players can improve the defence then they will be a serious force.
If Arsenal do not make it back into the top four of the Premier League this season then there will be growing pressure on Emery to win a trophy and this would be the perfect piece of silverware for him to get his hands on. Gunners fans are not entirely convinced by the Spaniard’s efforts so far in north London, with many questioning if the team has moved on much, if at all, since Arsene Wenger departed last year. Emery will be putting every effort into winning this competition, which he loves so much, and with an improving defence, and an outrageously talented attack, Arsenal will be a match for anybody in the tournament.
Their group sees them face a tough test against Eintracht Frankfurt, but no horribly long and difficult trips, with their other contests coming against Belgium’s Standard Liege and Portugal’s Guimaraes. The Gunners will have no problem with this group and can really build momentum in the second half of the tournament.
Sevilla are always a threat
If you are looking for an each-way bet on a long price then there are a couple of tempting options, but none more so than Sevilla, who have an incredible record in the Europa League.
The Spanish side have won this competition more than any other team and all that success has come since 2006, when they first lifted the trophy. They had a bit of an aberration last season, when they lost in the last 16 to Slavia Prague, but otherwise they are always a very solid prospect in this tournament, winning it as recently as 2016 when they beat Liverpool in the final.
They are now under the management of Julen Lopetegui who has a lot to prove after his failed stints in charge of Spain and Real Madrid, but he has made a bright start to his new role. Sevilla top the La Liga table after four games with three away victories that have seen them keep a clean sheet in all three. They will have tougher tasks to come, but it is a fine start and a solid defence will be crucial if they are to go deep into the Europa League.
They have not quite found their best options in attack yet, but they have plenty of offensive talent to call upon and it would seem it is only a matter of time until the goals come. Javier Hernandez, Nolito, Munir, Luuk de Jong, Ever Banega are just some of the threats Lopetegui has at his disposal and any defence in Europe will be concerned about them.
It is early days in the Spaniard’s reign in Andalucía but the signs are good that he can produce yet another Sevilla side capable of winning this competition and they look a great each-way price at 14/1, where hopefully they will lost to Arsenal in the final.
- Unai Emery has managed teams in four Europa League finals
- Arsenal won 11 games in the Europa League last season
- The Gunners beat the likes of Napoli and Valencia en route to last year’s final
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored eight Europa League goals last season and 31 in all competitions
- Arsenal have reached at least the semi-finals three times
- Sevilla have won the Europa League more than any other club – five times
- All five of Sevilla’s Europa League wins have come since 2006
- Sevilla have reached five Europa League finals and won them all
- Inter Milan have won more Europa League points than any other side
- Henrik Larsson is the tournament’s all-time top-scorer with 40