Arsenal vs Benfica Odds & Prediction – Europa League Round of 32 Leg 2

Arsenal vs Benfica

Benfica’s Adel Taarabt, left, and Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka jump for the ball during the Europa League round of 32 first leg soccer match between Benfica and Arsenal, at Rome’s Olympic Stadium, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Londoners meet Portugal’s biggest club in Greece at 12:55 pm EST on Thursday
  • Arteta’s EPL team were on top in a 1-1 first leg stalemate in Rome
  • See all odds and best bets for Arsenal vs Benfica Europa League Round of 32 Leg 2

Arsenal will hope to dominate once again when they take on Benfica in the second leg of their Europa League Round of 32 match on Thursday. This Arsenal vs Benfica match will kick-off at 12:55 pm EST on Thursday.

The opening meeting finished 1-1. But it was the London team who had the upper hand and should have made more of their control of the game.

In keeping with COVID-19 health restrictions, this fixture will take place in Piraeus near the Greek capital of Athens at the home stadium of Olympiakos. The first leg was in Rome.

Arsenal vs Benfica Europa League Odds

Matchup Spread Moneyline Total
Arsenal vs Benfica ARS -0.75 (+102) | BEN +0.75 (-127) ARS -125| BEN +310 | DRAW + 290 Ov 2.5 (-117) | Un 2.5 (-106)

Odds taken from DraftKings on February 24.

At DraftKings, Arsenal are heavy favorites for a win at -125 with the Portuguese outfit Benfica at +310. The draw after 90 minutes is priced at +290.

Frankly, the search for value here is tough. A spread bet taking Arsenal to win by two or more at +102 (Asian Handicap 0.75 with a win by one delivering half) seems the best choice.

Despite Arsenal’s better performance in the first leg, it was Benfica who took the lead in the 55th minute through a penalty converted by captain Juan Antonio Pizzi. Bukayo Saka equalized for the English Premier League team two minutes later.

Arsenal’s Missed Chances

There were two major missed chances for Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Neither side is enjoying a particularly fruitful season with Arsenal in 11th place in the EPL. Meanwhile, in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, Benfica currently stands fourth.

So this competition represents the best chance of major success in this campaign for both clubs.

Indeed, Arsenal’s under-fire coach Mikel Arteta particularly needs to make an impact in the competition after criticism of his side’s mediocre EPL campaign in which they have suffered 11 defeats.

The domestic form has been unimpressive for Arsenal as they dropped as low as 15th place in the EPL in mid-December after a run of four defeats in five games.

Last Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at home by EPL leaders Manchester City was the latest setback in another poor recent run of three defeats in four games – with the doubting voices questioning Spanish coach Arteta increasing in volume.

Arsenal’s progress through the group stage of the Europa League was impressive although they faced unchallenging opposition.

The team’s defense of the FA Cup they won last summer also ended quickly with a 1-0  defeat at Southampton in the Fourth Round on January 23.

However, Arsenal’s progress through the group stage of the Europa League was impressive although they faced unchallenging opposition.

They won all six games against Rapid Vienna of Austria, Molde of Denmark and Ireland’s Dundalk –  scoring 20 goals and conceding only five.

Arsenal vs Benfica Europa League Stats

6 Wins 3
1 Draws 4
0 Losses 0
21 Goals 19
6 Goals Against 10
11 Yellow Cards 6
0 Red Cards 1
2 Clean Sheets 2

In Arteta’s defense, it has been a transitional season for the Gunners.

German playmaker Mezut Ozil left for Fenerbahce in a January clear-out which also saw the departure of Greek defender Sokratis and fellow center-back Shkodran Mustafi.

The two major arrivals of last summer were the Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey who was captured from Atletico Madrid for £45 million and the Brazilian defender Gabriel who came from Lille for £45 million.

Partey has been hampered by a string of injuries and has missed the last three games although he could return to action against Benfica. Brazilian Willian, a free transfer signing from Chelsea,  has had little impact.

Poor Form in Portugal

Benfica’s recent form in Portugal has been poor with one defeat, three draws and only one win in the last five league games.

Frustratingly, they were held 0-0 away at Farense in their most recent outing last Sunday.

Last Autumn in the Europa League group stage, they finished in second place behind Glasgow Rangers.

Although they were unbeaten, the record was patchy with three wins and three draws – with 18 goals scored and nine conceded.

Runners-up to Porto in last season’s Portuguese championship, Benfica entered the Europa League after failing to get beyond the Champions League’s third qualifying round where they were beaten 2-1 by PAOK of Greece last September.

Benfica’s captain Pizzi is the Europa League’s leading scorer this season with seven goals.

Three players with experience in England’s Premier League were in Benfica’s first leg line-up.

Defender Jan Vertonghen was formerly with Spurs while fellow center-back Nicolas Otamendi was with Manchester City. Midfielder Adel Taarabt spent time in the EPL with Fulham, Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers.

Benfica’s captain Pizzi is the Europa League’s leading scorer this season with seven goals.

Historically, in these teams’ only previous competitive meeting, there was a 1-1 draw in the European Cup in Lisbon in October 1991 before Benfica were 3-1 winners in the return match in London in the following month.

Pick: Arsenal – Asian Handicap – 0.75 (+102)

John Dillon

Soccer Sports Writer


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