Gunners to edge Atleti opener

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Arsene Wenger

The Europa League has reached its semi-final phase and Thursday sees two potentially blockbusting ties as Arsenal welcome Atletico Madrid and Red Bull Salzburg visit Marseille.

Although these are only the first legs, these games will have a significant bearing on who makes it to next month’s final in Lyon while lifting the trophy would be a fitting way for Arsene Wenger to leave the Gunners.

The Frenchman revealed last week he will be stepping down in the summer and a maiden European success would be a fine way to go out.

With a top-four spot all but gone, this competition looks the only way into the Champions League and the Londoners are 3/1 to win the tournament.

Atletico are the 11/10 outright favourites and will arrive at The Emirates with the aim of strangling the game and frustrating their opponents.

It means the nous of Alexandre Lacazette, a man who could have joined Los Colchoneros last summer were it not for the club’s transfer ban, will be crucial. The Frenchman has scored three in his last two outings and is available at 33/20 in the Anytime Goalscorer market.

Arsenal have won their last six at home and may well be facing Atleti at the perfect time. The Spaniards have failed to score in their last two and are winless in their last four on the road.

Expect a cagey game but a Gunners win could be the outcome at 6/4.

The other match is a classic Europa League tie as Marseille welcome Red Bull Salzburg to the Riviera. Neither were particularly fancied pre-tournament but Les Phoceens are the type of maverick outfit who always do well in this competition, while Red Bull have shocked everyone with their progress.

Marseille have lost only one of their last 21 at home in all competitions, while Red Bull have just two defeats on the road in their last 21.

The French side have scored five in their last two home games, while Salzburg have netted twice in their last three Europa League games.

Interestingly though, these two sides met in the group stages and it was the Austrian champions who triumphed over their two games, with a measly 1-0 aggregate scoreline.

However, given recent form, expect goals at the Stade Velodrome and over 3.5 goals is 6/4 but home advantage could be key and the Marseille win and both to score is 17/10.

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