Although both Chelsea and Arsenal have effectively dropped out of the Premier League title race, there’s still the potential for the sides to pick up some silverware this season. This is because both of the London clubs are still in the Europa League, and the bookies seem to have Arsenal and Chelsea as front-runners to win the tournament.
In the betting odds, Chelsea is just ahead of their rivals, but both sides will be desperate to get something back from what’s been a fairly mediocre season. The Chelsea boss, Maurizio Sarri, has repeatedly complained about how his team seem to be uninspired, whilst Arsenal’s Unai Emery has also had plenty of teething troubles at his new club.
As a result, we can expect both of these iconic teams to be back at their best when the next round of Europa League matches kick off in February. Arsenal travel to play the relatively unknown Belarusian team, BATE Borisov, on 14 February, whilst Chelsea face a slightly trickier proposition when they head to Sweden to take on Malmo.
Whilst both matches will be hard-fought affairs, it’s only when they get into the latter stages of the tournament that they will be really pressed. Here is a quick look at who else the bookies seem to think could win the 2019 Europa League.
This legendary Italian side are currently second-placed in the Serie A table behind Juventus, and they will be desperate to get their hands on the Europa League title. Apart from their recent Coppa Italia defeat by AC Milan, Carlo Ancelotti’s team have been in great form with impressive wins against the likes of Sampdoria and Lazio in the past few weeks.
Carlo Ancelotti’s previous stints of managing the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain should be able to help Napoli hold their nerve in the later stages of the Europa League. And with acclaimed strikers like the Belgian star, Dries Mertens, in their ranks we can look forward to Napoli cruising past FC Zurich on 14 February to make their way into the final 16.
Inter Milan famously beat Lazio 3-0 to win the UEFA Cup Final in 1998, and many bookies seems to think that Luciano Spalletti’s team could be in with a strong chance of Europa League glory this season. Such thinking runs against form as Inter Milan have been experiencing a torrid time in the Serie A recently.
With three losses in the past eight days and no league goals scored since 2018, it’s no wonder that Spalletti’s role in the club is being seriously questioned. What’s particularly alarming is the fact that even star strikers like the Argentine ace, Mauro Icardi, seem to be suffering from something of a goal drought. Despite this, we think that Inter Milan should make easy work of Rapid Wien on 14 February and hopefully give their loyal supporters plenty to celebrate.
This classic Spanish team have an excellent Europa League record having won the tournament no less than four times before. Three of these titles came under the guidance of the current Arsenal boss, Unai Emery, and whilst the club have been through a quick succession of managers since then, they look to have settled with their current head coach, Pablo Machin.
Machin has helped Sevilla achieve a respectable fourth place in the La Liga table, and with fiery strikers like Wissam Ben Yedder and Andre Silva in their ranks they can cause serious problems for just about any defense. However, Sevilla’s backline can be notoriously leaky as was seen in their recent embarrassing 6-1 Copa del Ray defeat by Barcelona. Unfortunately, Sevilla faces a very tough task in the last 32 of the Europa League when they have to take on Lazio, but if they can get past this Italian side, then anything is possible.
If you are looking for a good outside bet on the Europa League this season, then you could do a lot worse than back Salzburg. The Austrian club have come from nowhere to be real contenders for the Europa League, and whilst their sponsorship by Red Bull may have earned them plenty of detractors, there is no denying that they can deliver the goods.
Much of Salzburg’s current success can be put down to their manager, Marco Rose, but their young squad is full of future stars like the Zambian striker, Patson Daka, who are well worth keeping an eye on. It’s always interesting to see how clubs from smaller leagues like the Austrian Bundesliga get on in large tournaments like the Europa League. So be sure to follow Salzburg’s progress in their upcoming game against Club Brugge on 14 February to see whether they end up playing against Arsenal or Chelsea in the last 16.
2018/19 has been a pretty dismal season for Valencia so far, with the side languishing mid-table in La Liga. The pressure will be on their head coach, Marcelino, to deliver the goods when Valencia take on Celtic on 14 February, and there will be hopes that they can perform as well as they did when they held Barcelona to a recent 2-2 draw away from home.
Valencia famously beat Marseille 2-0 in the 2004 UEFA Cup Final, and their famously loyal supporters will be expecting plenty more from what’s been a rough run of games. And seeing as they managed to beat Manchester United 2-1 in the Champions League last December, the Spanish club might have what it takes to upset the bookies.
Finally, just in case you were feeling lucky, then you could try backing Eintracht Frankfurt. This German club might be an outside bet, but they have been playing well in the Bundesliga recently, and even managed to hold the league leaders, Borussia Dortmund, to a close 1-1 draw.
While both Arsenal and Chelsea would be able to beat Eintracht, the Europa League is famous for its upsets and it’s going to be fascinating to see how things unfold.