Feinting the Line's Europa League picks (part 2): Benfica vs Arsenal, RB Salzburg vs Villareal, Lille vs Ajax
Arsenal's Willian, left, duels for the ball with Manchester United's Fred during an English Premier League soccer match.Shaun Botterill | Pool via Associated Press

Feinting the Line's Europa League picks (part 2): Benfica vs Arsenal, RB Salzburg vs Villareal, Lille vs Ajax

Europa league matches Thursday at 3 pm EST: Benfica v. Arsenal, Red Bull Salzburg v. Villarreal, LOSC Lille v. Ajax

If you plan on tailing, please do so with responsibility and caution. Before you tail, please read our introduction post on Bettors Insider describing who we are, our history, and our betting style. Additionally, check out @FeintingtheLine on Twitter. Best of luck with all your plays.

Benfica v. Arsenal | Europa League | 3:00 pm ET

THE PLAY: Arsenal PK @ +106 | .5u

THE PLAY: Arsenal ML @ +185 | .225u

THE PLAY: Arsenal -1 @ +375 | .225u

We have garnered a substantial $1.72 (or 1.72u) of combined closing line value from these plays. Bookmakers shortened odds quickly following Arsenal’s impressive 4-2 thrashing of Leeds at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. While it will be difficult for Benfica’s back line to play any worse than Marcelo Bielsa’s did at the weekend, Martin Odegaard provided a spark at the ten on his full debut for the Gunners. Tactically, his possible inclusion in the XI would benefit our cause.

We have gained $.29 (or .29u), $.42 (or .42u), and $.96 or (.96u) of closing line value on each play, respectively. Best current prices for the plays: PK @ -135 (MarathonBet), ML @ +138 (MarathonBet), and -1 @ +279 (Pinnacle).

Additionally, high price variance exists for these plays with second highest prices for each play being significantly shorter on secondary markets. While we would prefer a healthy Thomas Partey patrolling the middle, Arsenal should have enough quality to get by in the midfield against Benfica on its way to imposing a potent attack.

We believe Mikel Arteta’s Gunners wins like-natured games at an approximated 7% higher clip than a ML price of +185 suggests at an implied probability of 35.1%. The current ML market at MarathonBet almost exactly mirrors our original Arsenal win projections with an implied probability of 42% at +138. Next best current ML price is widely available at +127.

Red Bull Salzburg v. Villarreal | Europa League | 3:00 pm ET

THE PLAY: Villarreal PK @ +190 | .375u

THE PLAY: Villarreal ML @ +220 | .2u

THE PLAY: Villarreal -1 @ +515 | .2u

RB Salzburg, having won its last six matches in all competitions, hosts Unai Emery’s Villarreal at the Red Bull Arena in Austria late Sunday afternoon. RB Salzburg, however, has not faced European competition this season without its lead protagonist, Dominik Szoboszlai who picked up a groin injury during the first week of the new year. Although RB Salzburg boasts a pace-filled attack, we believe Villarreal is undervalued at these spots.

The oddsmakers have admitted just as much. We have garnered a significant $.21 (or .21u), $.30 (or .3u) of closing line value on our PK and ML plays, respectively since posing to Twitter. Additionally, the alternate line price of +515 has slipped drastically to +425. Consequently, we have picked up a whopping $.9 (or .9u) of closing line value on our alternate line bet. While significant price variance exists in the PK and ML markets, extraordinarily high price variance exists in the alternate line market.

We estimate our desired ML outcome occurs at a rate between 34.5% - 38%. Accordingly, the Villarreal ML price of +220 provides an approximated 3.2% - 6.7% value edge.

We count on Unai Emery to come through for us in the competition that brings out his best. Betting on Unai’s erratic lineups can be a tough pill to swallow sometimes. We all watched the end of the Arsenal reign. We also watch the Europa League!

LOSC Lille v. Ajax | Europa League | 3:00 pm ET

THE PLAY: LOSC Lille PK @ +123 | .6u

THE PLAY: LOSC Lille ML @ +220 | .15u

THE PLAY: LOSC Lille -1 @ +500 | .4u

Those who have been around to follow FtL the past few months will know that we have profitably relied on Lille in many Ligue One and Europa League situations. Lille’s squad talent is deep. Lille has generally been undervalued this season on the markets. Tactically, a factor that has troubled us recently, however, is the non-preference of Renato Sanches in Christophe Galtier’s XI.

Sanches provides a technical quality in the midfield that is unique and unlocks much of the pace on the wings for Lille. While Sanches was a shoe-in earlier this season, Galtier has used Sanches sparingly since his return from knee tendinitis issues a couple weeks ago. Sanches has only started one game since being redeployed in the squad.

Nonetheless, Lille provides solid value at these prices considering sharp line movement for our cause. It is always rewarding to choose an early dog that flips all the way to a favorite. We have gained huge closing line value on these plays with a combined $1.81 (or 1.81u). Best prices for the plays are now -106, +175, and +381, respectively.

We estimate Lille wins similarly situated fixtures between a 4.5% and 6.75% higher rate than the ML price of +175 suggests at 36.4%. Accordingly, these spots provide significant value edge. If Sanches sneaks his way into the XI (unlikely based on rumored lineups) our desired outcome probability becomes even higher.

THE PLAYS

Arsenal PK @ +106 | .5u

Arsenal ML @ +185 | .225u

Arsenal -1 @ +375 | .225u

Villarreal PK @ +133 | .375u

Villarreal ML @ +220 | .2u

Villarreal -1 @ +515 | .2u

Lille PK @ +123 | .6u

Lille ML @ +220 | .15u

Lille -1 @ +500 | .4u

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