Arsenal vs. Villarreal Betting Odds & Pick: How to Bet Thursday’s Europa League Showdown (May 6)
David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images. Pictured: Villarreal standout Gerard Moreno.
- Arsenal welcomes Villarreal to Emirates Stadium on Thursday for a crucial Europa League semifinal match.
- The Gunners trail 2-1 on aggregate against their Spanish foes, so they must get a result to reach the championship.
- Anthony Dabbundo details below why he's back the Yellow Submarine to get a result.
Arsenal vs. Villarreal Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-130 / +106)|
|Day | Time||Thursday | 3 p.m. ET|
|Odds updated Thursday afternoon via DraftKings.|
Arsenal’s late goal via a penalty kick in the first leg of last week’s match completely changed the complexion of this Europa League semifinal heading back to North London for Thursday’s deciding showdown.
Instead of trailing 2-0 without an away goal, which was a result they fully deserved based on performance, Arsenal can now advance with a 1-0 win or any win by multiple goals. The Gunners are still underdogs to move on at +120 odds, but without that goal, their odds would be well north of +200 in this spot.
Despite that controversial penalty, which cost me my play on under 2.5 total goals in an unfortunate way, Arsenal was second best that day and is overvalued at Emirates Stadium to win this match yet again.
Villarreal should be able to get at least a draw and see its way into the final against Manchester United (barring collapse) at the end of the month.
When I previewed the opening leg, I said to expect long periods of stale, conservative possession without clear chances for the Gunners. That’s pretty much what happened for the portions of the match with 11 on each side. Arsenal finished with 52 percent of the ball, both sides completed 85% of their passes and the Gunners managed seven low-quality shots and a penalty.
It’s only shot attempt on target was from the penalty. Manager Mikel Arteta will have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back to lead the line as a striker, but he’s posting career-low shot numbers per 90 minutes, plus he’s at 0.40 xG/90 in the Premier League. He hasn’t been nearly as effective, as he loses pace and gets older.
The other attacking numbers from Arsenal were dismal as former manager Unai Emery got the better of Arteta. Seven passes completed into the penalty area and zero from Emile Smith-Rowe.
Arteta will make adjustments. He’s likely to get Kieran Tierney back at left wing back, but that could lead to the Gunners falling into an overreliance on crossing. Villarreal will be happy to let them do it as long as Arsenal isn’t able to get in behind for cut backs to the center of the penalty area.
This isn’t like the matchup against Slavia Prague when the Gunners dominated the first leg and were unlucky to get a draw before pummeling them in the return match. Villarreal completely stifled the Gunners in the first leg and it’s not clear that Arsenal has a clear path to attack this defense or press enough to win the ball higher up the pitch to generate enough chances.
The Yellow Submarine’s pressure didn’t really work to win the ball off the Gunners all that much in the first leg. Villarreal’s pressing success rate sat at 26.3%, but it still didn’t matter. Its defense completely stifled Arsenal, holding it to 0.6 non-penalty expected goals in the match.
Aubameyang and Tierney’s potential return could make things a bit more difficult for Villarreal defensively, but the visitors are at their best in slow-tempo, cagey affairs like this
s sure to be with Arsenal chasing the goals.
Etienne Capoue is suspended for the Yellow Submarine following his red card, but he wasn’t that effective in the first leg prior to being sent off. The entire team registered two tackles and three interceptions total, which shows how comfortable Villarreal was not applying defensive pressure and allowing Arsenal to do nothing with the ball.
When Villarreal did win the ball, it was more successful at advancing it to the penalty area and getting off shots. The scoreline doesn’t truly reflect how much control it had and how little it was threatened in the first leg.
Betting Analysis & Pick
My projections make Arsenal the slight favorite, but not close to the -117 odds it currently possesses. My number is at +115 and that’s even with me being higher on England and lower on Spain than the market has been all season.
For that reason, I’ll back Villarreal to avoid defeat. If the Yellow Submarine can find an away goal, it becomes even more difficult for the Gunners to get two in 90 minutes for me to lose my wager.
Pick: Villarreal +0.5 (-105 or better)