Continental Conundrum for Players and Layers

It’s a case of dead rubbers for different reasons for English clubs, with Arsenal having already claimed top spot in their section with a game to spare and Everton condemned to a continental exit as early as matchday four.

The situation adds an extra dimension to two already-hard-call-fixtures for the Premier League representatives. And while they are difficult matches for punters to get right, let’s not forget the same applies to bookmakers.

Football betting expert Dan Roebuck talks us through Arsenal and Everton’s upcoming Europa duels…

Arsenal v Bate Borisov | 7 Dec 20:05

Borisov Set For Wilshere Blast

The Gunners, 5/1 favourites to win the Europa League, are already assured of top spot in Group H. However, BATE Borisov know that only three points will see them stand any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages – and even then, the Belorussian side need Crvena Zvezda and Koln to draw in Belgrade.

Aleksandr Yermakovich’s side trade at 23/4 to keep up their side of the bargain and win in London, however, it’s worth remembering that they have claimed just two victories in their last 24 European away games.

BATE have already had one ‘Aguerooo’ moment this autumn – just 10 days ago they won the Belarus Vysshaya Liga in extraordinary circumstances by scoring in the 96th minute of their final game of the season to pip Dinamo Minsk on goal difference – but it’s unlikely they will enjoy another.

Arsenal, who will once again field a team of fringe first teamers, are priced up as 2/5 favourites, with the draw 4/1.

The Gunners have scored only one goal in their last three Europa League fixtures but, as BATE have managed only two clean sheets in their last 26 continental trips, I couldn’t recommend that the visitors will keep the Arsenal attack at bay.

One price that caught the eye in this fixture was the 11/1 about Jack Wilshire netting the opening goal (and 18/5 to score at any time).

The England midfielder has played in an advanced role in recent outings, and he managed five attempts at goal (three on target) in the 1-0 loss to Koln last time out – three more than the next Arsenal player – and he looks a value bet to grab his first goal for Arsene Wenger’s side since May 2015.

Apollon Limassol v Everton | 7 Dec 18:00

No Mediterranean Meander for Merseysiders

The last time Sam Allardyce took charge of a club game in European football was back in February 2006, when Tony Blair was still Prime Minister and Madonna was about to rise to the top of charts as a solo artist for (currently) the last time.

Then, his Bolton side saw their run in the UEFA Cup ended by a Marseille team that featured, amongst others, Fabien Barthez, Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery.

Fast-forward almost a dozen years, and seven different managerial appointments, and Big Sam is back in the dugout for a continental club clash – although the only thing up for grabs for both Everton and hosts, Apollon Limassol, are co-efficient points, as neither side can progress from Group E.

Post-qualifiers, the two clubs have failed to win a single game in Europe, and if Everton doesn’t land odds of 17/10 they will be the first English side to fail to register a win in the group stages of the Europa League.

The Cypriot team are 31/20 with the draw 49/20. Since Sofronis Avgousti took over at Apollon he has never seen his side lose at home and, as Everton have the not-so-small matter of the Merseyside derby to prepare for this Sunday, I can’t see that changing this midweek.

Allardyce has already come out warning punters that he will field a weakened eleven, saying: “I am going to send a team that is not going to be risking too many players who are going to be involved for Liverpool”.

Apollon’s next domestic fixture isn’t until Monday when they travel to Omonia, and they will relish the opportunity to become the first Cypriot club to defeat a side from the English top flight.

They might just fall short of the victory, so the value here is to back them on the double chance market to either win or draw at 4/9. Veteran Argentine striker, Emilio José Zelaya, who can boast eight goals in all competitions this term (and three in his last two outings), looks a fair price at 23/4 to score the opener (39/20 to net at any time).

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