The Europa League has reached the crucial stage of the group phase, with clubs such as the English Premier League of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City
North London Favourites
Of the two North London based favourites, who is the team to pick? It’s Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur who are the current betting favourites at 6/1, while Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are a best price 7/1 at the time of going to press.
Of the two sides, Tottenham are in far superior form, flying high at the top of the Premier League, a full 10 points ahead of The Gunners, who after 10 games find themselves in the bottom half of the EPL. Could the Europa League be a focus for Arteta’s side? Maybe, but we just don’t see the squad having the quality to cope. Even Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is struggling to score this season, with the Gabonese having scored just twice. By contrast, Spurs’ attack force of Son and Kane have scored and assisted more goals in the Premier League this season as Arsenal have as a team. It’s an easy choice to make with the odds for both sides so close together.
Other Fancied Sides
It’s not just Arsenal and Spurs who are Premier League sides who are fancied to go far in the competition. With Leicester City (14/1) also in the mix, there could easily be at least one English side in the Europa League final.
Brendan Rodgers’ side are a dangerous threat in this competition and while they struggled defensively at Braga last week, they also scored three goals away from home after trailing – no mean feat for a team who had made changes prior to kick-off. With a fair wind, Leicester could be a good team to back until the latter stages when their defensive frailties might come back to haunt them.
Another of the chasing sides who will be confident are Serie A leaders A.C. Milan (12/1). Cruising though their group, the Rossineri are sure to be a massive danger to anyone they face late in the competition and have true star quality down the spine of their team, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede is in rude health and scoring goals at a phenomenal rate so far. Oddly, Milan have never won the UEFA Cup or Europa League, despite winning the European Cup seven times. The Milanese side were banned on three separate occasions from taking part; in 1980 for the Totonero scandal, 11 years later in 1991 after withdrawing from a match against Marseille and last year courtesy of UEFA’s FFP regulations.
Another Italian side, Napoli (16/1) could be a danger too, but we feel like when the tournament gets to the latter stages, they may still be embroiled in a quest to win Serie A itself. In the year Maradona died, to win a title that they have only previously done with the mercurial midfield magician leading their side would be a fitting way to celebrate his life and influence on Naples, right down to the renaming of the newly-christened Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
At this stage, backing any side in the current betting is something we should encourage you to temper with the knowledge that sides finishing 3rd in their Champions League group will join those who proceed from the group stage from the Europa League in the New Year.
Despite those incoming sides, however, we would still back Real Sociedad as our outsiders to win the Europa League. While the side, rejuvenated by the arrival of favourite David Silva, are currently top of La Liga by a point from Atletico Madrid, we think that their domestic form might dip at some point, especially if Atleti carry on their unbeaten rise up La Liga including winning their two games in hand.
Sociedad have creativity in abundance and there’s a sense of destiny about their season, with 22 goals scored and just five against in La Liga hinting at a real impregnable nature to their victories, too. They should in no way be as long as 25/1 to win it, as they are with three bookmakers at the time of going to press.
Round-Up of Betting Tips:
Tottenham Hotspur (6/1) to win the Europa League: 5 points
A.C. Milan (12/1) to win the Europa League: 3 points
Real Sociedad (25/1) to win the Europa League: 2 points
Total stake: 10 points
Minimum win return: 30 points (Tottenham Hotspur)