Europa League Thursday Preview

The Europa League returns at the quarter-final stage with Chelsea the favourites to claim the trophy.

Maurizio Sarri’s side are tipped to make it through to the semi-finals as they face Slavia Prague, and the first-leg is in the Czech Republic.

Arsenal face Napoli in the undoubted tie of the last eight and it is The Gunners who host the Serie A giants in the first leg.

Benfica take on Eintracht Frankfurt with the Germans travelling to the Estadio Da Luz in the opener, whilst the final game is an all La Liga contest as Villarreal take on Valencia.

We run through every game including predictions from former England, Crystal Palace and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray, our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and BoyleSports’ Lawrence Lyons.

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Arsenal 20:00 Napoli
Emirates Stadium

TEAM NEWS: Arsenal are sweating on captain Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka, but leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should overcome an illness to be fit.

Kalidou Koulibaly is back from European suspension for Napoli, who are set to be without Amadou Diawara and Raul Albiol, whilst David Ospina misses out on facing his current employers due to his head injury.

Lorenzo Insigne and Faouzi Ghoulam are both set to feature.
KEY FACT: Arsenal have lost just once in their last 17 home games in the Europa League
MATCH ODDS: Arsenal 13/10 Draw 12/5 Napoli 21/10
BoyleSports pick: Arsenal to win @13/10
ANDY SAYS: This is a good game, but it will be close and I can see a draw…1-1
GRAEME SAYS: Tough to call, two good teams but I think Arsenal could sneak it…2-1
Football Index – One to follow: Ainsley Maitland-Niles – A very good young player, and one worth following

Benfica 20:00 Eintracht Frankfurt
Estadio Da Luz

TEAM NEWS: Benfica come into the game without suspended striker Jonas, whilst Salvio and Gabriel both miss out through injury.

Frankfurt are without injured defenders Timothy Chandler and Taleb Tawatha, but they hope Marco Russ, Mijat Gacinovic, Sebastien Haller, Sebastian Rode and Martin Hinteregger could be fit.
KEY FACT: Eintracht are on a 15-match unbeaten run
MATCH ODDS: Benfica 13/10 Draw 5/2 Eintracht 21/10
BoyleSports pick: 1-1 Draw @5/1
ANDY SAYS: I think Benfica’s home advantage will kick-in here…2-0
GRAEME SAYS: I can see goals here, and I think Eintracht get something…2-2
Football Index – One to follow: Luka Jovic – The young Serb has the world at his feet, huge value left in him on the Index

Slavia Prague 20:00 Chelsea
Eden Arena

TEAM NEWS: Chelsea could rest a number of key players with their battle for a top-four finish in the Premier League in mind, meaning star man Eden Hazard could be rested. Callum Hudson-Odoi could be handed a start.

Slavia are without the suspended Tomas Soucek, whilst Jakub Hromada and Stanislav Tecl are sidelined through injury.
KEY FACT: Chelsea have never lost to a Czech side in Europe
MATCH ODDS: Slavia 4/1 Draw 14/5 Chelsea 7/10
BoyleSports pick: Giroud to score anytime @11/10
ANDY SAYS: I don’t see Chelsea have  big problem here and they will take away a healthy lead…1-3
GRAEME SAYS: If Chelsea change their side too much, this may not be a walk in the park, but they should still win…1-2
Football Index – One to follow: Callum Hudson-Odoi – A top young player to follow on the Index

Villarreal 20:00 Valencia
Estadio de la Ceramica

TEAM NEWS: Villarreal are without a handful of players including Bruno Soriano, Manu Trigueros, Miguelon Llambrich, Javi Fuego, Jaume Costa and Daniele Bonera.

Ruben Sobrino, Carlos Soler and Geoffrey Kondogbia are all sidelined but Francis Coquelin and Cristiano Piccini could figure.
KEY FACT: Less than 40 miles separates these two sides
MATCH ODDS: Villarreal 19/10 Draw 11/5 Valencia 6/4
BoyleSports pick: Draw @11/5
ANDY SAYS: Could be a very good game here in what is a derby, going for a draw…2-2
GRAEME SAYS: I see Villarreal and Valencia cancelling each other out…1-1
Football Index – One to follow: Pablo Fornals – A top young midfielder with plenty of value on the Index

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