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Who will win the Europa League?

by Robert Johnson

Last season, Arsenal were looking like strong contenders for the Europa League. They drew the first leg of the semi-final against Athletico Madrid at the Emirates. However, their Europa League hopes were ended when Diego Costa scored the solo goal in the second leg of the semi-final. After beating Arsenal, Diego Simeone’s side had an easy job against Marseille in the final in order to lift their third Europa League title.

The Gunners are emerging as top favorites for this year’s competition as well. But the competition is going to be very tough with Chelsea, who failed to finish in the top four last season, in the contest. While the teams of Napoli and Inter Millan would also serve to make this year’s Europa League very interesting.

1- Chelsea

Despite winning the FA Cup title, Chelsea sacked Antonio Conte at the end of last season. They gave Maurizio Sarri a chance and so far the performance of the Italian is more than satisfactory.

His side defeated Liverpool at Anfield and later prevented the league leaders at Stamford Bridge from taking away the full points. But when they lost two quick matches against Wolves and Tottenham, everyone was expecting a good thrashing at the hands of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Instead, Sarri’s team became the first side to prove that City is not invincible after beating them 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Currently, they are making a strong case for the Champions League qualification next year.

Sarri will now be looking to add a title to his name after he failed to claim any at Napoli. Chelsea easily topped their group in the Europa League with five victories. At Stamford Bridge, they easily dominated PAOK, Bate, and Vidi by 4-0, 3-1 and 1-0 respectively. Without their best players, they suffered their only draw of the competition at Groupama Arena against Vidi.

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2-  Arsenal

Unai Emery had a very difficult job on his hand when he succeeded Arsene Wenger who retired after being at the club for 22 years. However, the team has given a great start to the season under the new Spanish manager. They established a 22-match unbeaten run after losing their first two matches against Manchester City and Chelsea. That winning run came to an end when they were defeated by Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium.

The Gunners inflicted a humiliating defeat to their bitter rivals Tottenham when they came to the Emirates last month. Even Liverpool and Manchester United couldn’t claim the full points against Emery’s side. Liverpool drew 1-1 at the Emirates while United failed to win at Old Trafford.

Arsenal are very strong candidates for the Europa League now. With five victories and only a draw, they topped their group and proceeded to the next round of the competition. They narrowly lost the semi-final of the competition in the previous year, but now they have one more opportunity to win the competition this season.

3- Napoli

It looks unlikely that anyone in Serie A is going to stop Juventus from claiming their eighth consecutive title. With Cristiano Ronaldo in the team, they seem like above the competition. Without comparing with Juventus, Napoli has been quite impressive in the Serie A. They are currently second in the league with the difference of five points with Inter Milan.

In the Champions League, Ancelotti’s team managed to beat Liverpool and Red Star Belgrade at San Paolo while drawing twice with PSG. However, the defeat at Anfield proved to be the end of their Champions League campaign. Now they will be aiming for the Europa League title.

10 comments to Who will win the Europa League?

  • Mikey

    Betting, betting, betting…………….seriously disappointing UA

  • Josif

    So the last 32 in Europa League looks like this:

    Viktoria Plzen v Dinamo Zagreb

    Club Brugge v Red Bull Salzburg

    Rapid Wien v Inter Milan

    Slavia Prague v Genk

    Krasnodar v Bayer Leverkusen

    Zurich v Napoli

    Malmö FF v Chelsea

    Shakhtar v Eintracht

    Celtic v Valencia

    Rennes v Real Betis

    Olympiacos v Dynamo Kyiv

    Lazio v Sevilla

    Fenerbahce v Zenit

    Sporting v Villarreal

    BATE Borisov v Arsenal

    Galatasaray v Benfica

    At the first look we can see there are a lot of Spanish clubs out there. La Liga has been by far the most successive league in Europe when it comes to winning European trophies for years – they have won Champions League each time since 2013-14 and only Manchester United have managed to get one Europa League in the same period. 9 out of 10 European trophies for Spanish clubs since the start of 2013-14, 14 out of 16 if we add European Supercups into equation with Bayern (European Supercup 2014) and Manchester United (Europa League 2016-17) being the intruders.

    Valencia, Villarreal and two Sevilla clubs are standing on our way to the trophy and a Champions League place. Valencia have familiar faces in their line-up with Gabriel de Abreu and Francis Coquelin among their players. They finished third behing Juventus and Manchester United respectively in their Champions League group. Villarreal have re-signed Santi Cazorla last summer which means we might get a chance to see our favourite ambidextrous magician at the Emirates again. Real Betis have won the group edging out AC Milan out of the competition while Sevilla have also won their group mostly thanks to their superiority at home where they have won all three games (3-0, 5-1, 6-0) scoring 14 goals in the process.

    When it comes to other teams left in the competition, Napoli and Chelsea are obviously the strongest two. The Italians were unlucky to get knocked out of the Champions League as they have deserved a lot more against PSG and Liverpool. They have Carlo Ancelotti, a manager who has won Champions League three times with Milan and Real Madrid respectively, and a whole bunch of top quality players such as Koulibaly, Mertens, Milik, Hamšik and our own Dave Ospina.

    Chelsea are among the favourites to win the competition even if their manager is yet to win his first trophy. Maurizio Sarri has never won a trophy despite his impressive spell at Napoli where he did a lot of Pochettino-like Spursing – failing to win cup competitions only to concentrate on not winning the league. With players such as Eden Hazard and David Luiz that were around when Chelsea last won the competition (2012-13) they certainly possess quality and experience to win it again.

    Inter Milan have been going through a weird season. There is so much quality in their team (Perišić, Icardi, Vecino, Brozović, Handanović) but they don’t play good football, mostly because their squad is craving for a Santi Cazorla in the midfield and a Mesut Özil at No. 10. They have shot themselves all the way to Europa League by not beating already eliminated PSV Eindhoven at Giuseppe Meazza.

    Finally, teams like Eintracht and Red Bull Salzburg (all six victories in their respective groups) or Bayer Leverkusen should not be underestimated at any way. Eintracht have Luka Jović, the hottest striker in Bundesliga this season, and RB Salzburg have been one of the weirdest European teams out there. For some reason, they can’t qualify for CL group stage but they look very competent in Europa League (semifinalists last season). Bayer Leverkusen with Peter Bosz on the bench remain the biggest mystery of the competition for me – they have so much talent (Brandt, Bailey, Bender) but they can always lose a game because of their defensive lapses.

  • Laos gooner

    I agree with Mikey about the betting, not needed. Could you please stop?

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I don’t bet anymore but I believe some people are betting. If to be liberal in dissseminating betting information to the betting audience on UA will not constitute an offence to the general public but a useful help to those who are betting on the odds, then, the UA should not be coarse to stop giving out useful tips on betting odds to the UA audience generally when it likes to do so for the generality of those who will like to place their money on the betting odds hoping to win some money. Thus, benefiting from the latest information of betting odds on the UA.

    Arsenal will not be playing BATE Borisov at away in the 1st leg of the Europa League round 16 matches until February I suppose. So, I will prefer to wait till the Arsenal match away to BATE is near. Say, at least 2 weeks to play the match. Then, I can start to delve into the pre match analysis and prediction for Arsenal. But in the main time, it’s good to take a look at what Emery has said in his pre FA Cup match against Man Utd at the Ems tomorrow in the press conference he held today on signings of a centreback and a winger for Arsenal which he’ll like to see accomplished during this January transfer window that is 8 days to close.

    Arsenal have 3 centrebacks of: Koscielny, Mustafi and Sokratis on their books and still playing as none of them is injured as of today Wednesday. And one or two Gunners are know to be able to play to provide cover at centreback are not injured but able to play should they be told to play at centreback . So, does Arsenal need a centreback signing this January window in the true sense of it? And even at left and right back positions where Holding and Bellerin have been forced off from playing at RB due to season end injuries suffered to them, but Arsenal still have 3 senior Gunners on ground in the 1st team squad of: Jenkinson, AMN and Lichtsteiner who can efficiently play at RB with AMN known to be able play at left back too and Monreal and Kolasinac are there manning the LB position. So, to me Arsenal are not critically in need to do a centreback or full back signings this January window. Moreover they could call on Pleguezuelo and Medley from the Arsenal PL 2 team for cover at centreback whenever it becomes necessary. A right or left winger signing is been talked for signing by Emery this January window. Well. Mkhitaryan who is supposedly a right winger for Arsenal is about back from injury for the Gunners and Iwobi the workaholic for Arsenal at the left wing but often with no cigar both don’t have other senior specialist wingers in the squad to cover efficiently for them whenever one of them is not available to play in a certain Emery’s preferred formation order of play. Say, in a 4231 formation. So, for cover an options , Arsenal may sign a winger this Jan window but who can efficiently play at both the RW and LW will be good to have at Arsenal. Meanwhile, Iwobi can be getting goals for Arsenal in games if as he did at Chelsea in the PL early this season get into goals scoring position in the opponent’s 18 yard to receive a pass to attempt scoring and not always feeding others to score.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I just want to say, I hope the Pgmol will not send referee Michael Oliver to the Emirates Stadium on Friday night to referee in the FA Cup match between Arsenal and Man Utd. For, the Pgmo referee, Michael Oliver is not only one the 5 staunch anti-Arsenal referee at the Pgmol who has been refereeing against Arsenal consistently in games. But the man referee Michael Oliver is a total anti-Arsenal match referee in totality at the Pgmol who has been watched and seen to be chronic to the core in match refereeing against Arsenal whenever he was at the centre refereeing in a match that’s involved Arsenal playing in it. By the way, have Arsenal ever won any match in which referee Michael Oliver had refereed it? Well. I can’t remembered I watching Arsenal win a match in which referee Michael Oliver had been the centre referee in the match. But I could be wrong I must admit.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I just want to say, I hope the Pgmol will not send referee Michael Oliver to the Emirates Stadium on Friday night to referee the FA Cup match between Arsenal and Man Utd. For, the Pgmo referee, Michael Oliver is not only one of the senior 5 referees at the Pgmol who are all staunch anti-Arsenal match referees but a referee who has been refereeing against Arsenal consistently in games. And also a total anti-Arsenal match referee in totality at the Pgmol who has been watched and seen to be chronic to the core in match refereeing against Arsenal in matches whenever he was at the centre refereeing in a match that’s involved Arsenal playing in it. By the way, have Arsenal ever won any match in which referee Michael Oliver had refereed it? Well. I can’t remembered I watching Arsenal win a match in which referee Michael Oliver had been the centre referee in the match. But I could be wrong I must admit if facts anfield figures that are contrary to my sayings proved me wrong.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Was this written by UA or a betting site?
    Leaves a bad taste…

  • As soon as I started reading this post I knew it was another betting one. There was no point it from the first line.

    I hope you got a good wad for it because I doubt if anyone here will take the bait. Easy money

  • And this is why normally I don’t publish comments that are based on something from Talk Sport which comes from another source which they only generally indicate. The actual figures come from the European Club Footballing Landscape report and I am not sure they show that at all. I might be wrong but please tell us where in the original report is actually says that.