Gunners won’t be firing blanks tonight!
There’s nothing that says ‘Europa League’ quite like a Thursday night trip to Azerbaijan.
Arsenal supporters may have to get used to the continent’s junior competition – they are already off the pace in the top-four race in the Premier League – but Unai Emery’s impressive pedigree in this tournament offers hope that they could go all the way this term.
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Qarabag will need to avoid getting carried away if they are to gain anything from the match, but Arsenal will surely have too much quality – go for an away win with both teams to score at 3.40.
Milan vs Olympiacos
Milan are one of those clubs who will have a curious relationship with the Europa League throughout this season: on the one hand they would undoubtedly love to win the tournament, but it must also feel a little uncomfortable for Rossoneri supporters to celebrate a narrow 1-0 victory over Luxembourg’s Dudelange as they did last time out.
Olympiacos drew 0-0 with Real Betis in their opening match and will, therefore, be keen to pick up a victory here, but home advantage could swing the balance in Milan’s favour.
Chelsea vs Vidi
Chelsea got their hands on the trophy the last time they participated in the Europa League, and that was with a manager in Rafael Benitez who was openly disliked by the club’s fans and many of the players.
We can only imagine how much they will dominate the competition now the popular Maurizio Sarri is at the helm. Willian’s strike helped the Blues to a 1-0 triumph over PAOK Salonika on matchday one, but this will be a much more comfortable evening for Sarri’s side.
Put some of your easy-earned cash on a home win with a -2 handicap at 1.72.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Lazio
Eintracht Frankfurt pulled off one of the most impressive results of the first round of fixtures, beating last season’s runners-up Marseille 2-1 away from home.
Theirs is arguably the toughest of all ten groups, with Lazio – also 2-1 winners against Apollon Limassol last time out one of the leading contenders to go deep in the competition.
The Rome-based outfit were slightly unfortunate to miss out on the Champions League this term, and the quality within their starting XI tips the scales towards an away win at 3.05.
Spartak Moscow vs Villarreal
Spartak are one of the Russian sides hoping to build on the feelgood factor generated by last summer’s World Cup, but their European season got off to a disappointing start with a 2-0 loss to Rapid Vienna.
They, therefore, need a win here if they want to stay in touch with those at the top of the group, but Villarreal are tricky opponents and will themselves be pushing for victory following a 2-2 draw with Rangers in their first game.
Krasnador vs Sevilla
Sevilla love the Europa League more than anything in this world, having won the competition three times in a row under Unai Emery earlier this decade.
Everything feels right again now that the Spanish side are back in the tournament after their weird dalliance with the Champions League last time out, and they got their continental campaign off to a brilliant start with a 5-1 thrashing of Standard Liege in game week one.
Travelling to Krasnador will not be easy – not least because it is pretty far away. I fancy a slow start to the game, so I am going for an adventurous draw at half-time and Sevilla win at full-time at 5.80.
By Greg Lea
After many years of sports writing with an emphasis on football, including a stint at Sky Sports, Greg is here to help you with betting tips. Follow him on Twitter @greglea to get the latest updates before placing your bets.