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Europa League Tips: Thursday 20th September

Europa League TipsThis year’s Europa League gets underway on Thursday night with 12 groups of four teams battling it out for a total of 24 places available in the next phase of the competition.

Over six Matchdays, the teams in each group face off home and away to decide which top two sides will progress.

Managers are more prone to playing less than full-strength teams in this competition and I’ve very much kept that in mind with my predictions for this week.

This year’s tournament looks like being top quality with Arsenal, Chelsea, Rangers and Celtic heading up the interest from the UK, while facing them will be a number of top teams including AC Milan, Lazio, Zenit St Petersburg, Dynamo Kiev, Sporting Lisbon, Besiktas, Bayer Leverkusen and Red Bull Leipzig.

It should be a high-quality competition, which will only improve in quality when the eight teams from the Champions League drop into the tournament.

Football Betting Tips: Thursday 20th September

September 20, 2018
PAOK Saloniki
VS
Chelsea
Toumba Stadium
5:55 pm
PAOK Saloniki Logo
PAOK Saloniki
VS
Chelsea Logo
Chelsea
September 20, 2018
Toumba Stadium
5:55 pm
Key Stats
  • PAOK have won all three of their opening league games in the Greek League but have seven points as they were deducted two points by court decision.
  • Players include former Arsenal and Bournemouth man Chuba Akpom Swedish midfielder Pontus Wernbloom and Portuguese skipper Vierinha.
  • Chelsea are top of the Premier League with 15 points from their five games so far after a 4-1 win over Cardiff at the weekend in which Eden Hazard scored a hattrick.
  • Chelsea boss Mauricio Sarri could elect to rotate his squad for this game to give fringe players and youngsters a chance to start.
Analysis:

PAOK pushed AEK Athens hard in the Greek League last season and but for the actions of their chairman, they could have won the league. A lengthy court process saw a hefty penalty reduced to a two point penalty, which was appled this season and means PAOK have just seven points, despite winning all of their opening three games.

In truth though, they should not pose too much of a threat to Chelsea, but that could be an issue if Mauricio Sarri elects to rest key players for this game. I am sure Sarri won’t rest all Chelsea’s main stars, but I can see several sitting out and that I think makes this a more even contest than the bookies are suggesting.

Given PAOK’s decent home form and their relative strength in front of goal, I think that the home side will break though Chelsea’s defence which has looked fragile this season, even at full strength. However, I cannot see Chelsea not scoring more goals the other end, hence I am backing Chelsea to win, but both teams to find the net here.

Chelsea To Win & Both Teams To Score - £10 returns £39.00
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September 20, 2018
Villarreal
VS
Rangers
Estadio de la Ceramica
5:55 pm
Villarreal Logo
Villarreal
VS
Rangers Logo
Rangers
September 20, 2018
Estadio de la Ceramica
5:55 pm
Key Stats
  • Villarreal moved up to 13th in the La Liga table at the weekend following a vital 1-0 away win at Leganes, their first win of the season thus far.
  • Key players for Villarreal include ex-Arsenal man Santi Cazorla, striker Nicola Sansone, Carlos Bacca & ex-Everton GK Ramiro Funes Mori.
  • Rangers lie 4th in the Scottish Premiership, seven points behind Hearts but just two behind Celtic and Livingston above them in the table.
  • The teams met in the Champions League back in 2006, both games finishing in draws, 2-2 in Glasgow, followed by a 1-1 draw in Spain.
Analysis:

Although Villarreal only picked up their first win of the season at the weekend against lowly Leganes, that point will be a massive boost to the Spanish side. This is a team and squad with so much more talent than their poor start suggests and my gut feeling is that they will be a top half team in La Liga before the year is out.

Rangers have had a decent start under Steven Gerrard but 2 wins, 2 draws and a defeat from their opening five games suggests that they are still finding their feet in the relatively benign climes of the Scottish Premier League. Unable to beat Celtic a few weeks ago, it is hard to see them doing any better against a Villarreal team that looks much better on paper.

This could well be a very long evening for Rangers fans against a Spanish side that has some outstanding attackers and I fear that if Villarreal get an early goal, the visitors could well be on the wrong end of a mauling. Villarreal to win this one and I cannot see Rangers getting a goal.

Villarreal To Win To Nil - £10 returns £20.00
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September 20, 2018
Arsenal
VS
Vorskla
Emirates
8:00 pm
Arsenal Logo
Arsenal
VS
Vorskla Logo
Vorskla
September 20, 2018
Emirates
8:00 pm
Key Stats
  • Arsenal come into this game on the back of three successive wins that have moved them up to seventh in the Premier League.
  • The Gunners have a history of playing youngsters in this tournament, especially during the early stages of proceedings.
  • Vorskla have had an up and down start to the season in Ukraine, winning four and losing four of their eight league games to lie in fifth place in the table.
  • Vorskla qualified for this tournament by finishing 3rd in the Ukranian League last season well behind Champions Shakhtar and runner’s up Dynamo Kiev.
Analysis:

According to the bookies, this is a game Arsenal should win by a bucketful and Vorskla should not even bother turning up, but what is fascinating about this game is whether new Arsenal manager Unai Emery decides to give key players a rest in this game, as his predecessor did in the tournament last season.

If he does, then this becomes a lot tougher game for Arsenal and those odds look somewhat silly. I can see Emery resting several first teamers, including the likes of Mesut Ozil and with even the best Gunner’s back line leaking goals at present, I think Vorskla could find the net.

That said, even a weakened Arsenal side at home should have more than enough quality to get the job done here, though it is worth remembering how they struggled with Ostersunds at home last season. That said, Arsenal won’t want to start with a loss so I think they’ll get a comfortable win here, but without keeping a clean sheet.

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September 20, 2018
Celtic
VS
Rosenborg
Celtic Park
8:00 pm
Celtic Logo
Celtic
VS
Rosenborg Logo
Rosenborg
September 20, 2018
Celtic Park
8:00 pm
Key Stats
  • Celtic lie second in the Scottish Premier League with ten points from five games, five points behind the leaders Hearts of Midlothian.
  • The teams met earlier this season in the Champions League qualifiers, Celtic winning 3-1 at home before drawing 0-0 in Norway.
  • The Celts come into this game struggling for form after a narrow 1-0 win at Rangers was followed by a disappointing 0-0 draw away to St Mirren at the weekend.
  • In contrast Rosenborg come into this game on the back of seven straight wins.
Analysis:

Celtic should be confident of earning a win over a Rosenborg side they have already beaten at home once this season in Champions League qualifying, but I think that Celtic side was probably a good deal more confident than the current side is at the moment.

In contrast, Rosenborg will likely be in much better shape having won all of their last seven games and they are unbeaten since that 3-1 defeat against Celtic on the 25th July.

As such, I think this is going to be a tricky night for Celtic despite the bookmakers predicting another easy win for the home side. I can see Celtic winning, but I think this will be a much closer game than many are predicting and it could well be a late goal that settles it in Celtic’s favour.

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*Tips are exactly that tips (predictions) and do not guarantee success.

the Cheeky Punter
The Cheeky Punter is an ex professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has worked for a number of top bookmakers including Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. He's also written for a number of leading news outlets including the Guardian, i (newspaper) and Soccer Lens. More about him here.