Charlie Nicholas' Europa League predictions: Wins for Arsenal, Chelsea and Celtic
Last Updated: 14/02/19 7:34am
Who is Soccer Saturday pundit Charlie Nicholas tipping in the Europa League round of 32?
Three British teams are in action, with Arsenal travelling to BATE Borisov, Chelsea visiting Malmo and Celtic hosting Valencia.
And the former Arsenal and Celtic striker is here to give his predictions for that trio of clashes in Europe's second-tier competition...
BATE Borisov vs Arsenal, Thursday, 5.55pm
BATE have been building their reputation for a while in European football. You know Arsenal's vulnerable defence can do silly things, but they have to get the job done. Unai Emery has suffered more than anybody else. He knows his defence is a car crash, but there is not a lot he can do. Laurent Koscielny cannot do it, Shkodran Mustafi doesn't get what he is being taught, as well as the full-backs. He has made a couple of mistakes, but who doesn't?
Alexandre Lacazette is not the superstar striker that everyone wants, but he does what it says on the tin. He works hard and he scores. He has to play Lacazette, there are goals in him. I don't see why he should take the risk, so I would take the strongest team and look to get the win, then give the youngsters their chance to shine in the return leg. Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka, all of those. This man takes this competition seriously and we have seen that before.
CHARLIE SAYS: 1-3 (11/1 with Sky Bet)
Celtic vs Valencia, Thursday, 8pm
I am going with my heart over my head. Celtic do not convince you in Europe. There are two special places in Britain for European nights, Anfield and Celtic Park. These are the nights where there is an extra edge, the Celtic fans turn up for it. Valencia are eighth in La Liga and are a bit inconsistent going forward. They beat Manchester United at home and should have done away too.
Daniel Parejo is a creative and silky midfield player - Celtic must stop him. Valencia can rely on the defence and sit in. Celtic must take an advantage going back to Valencia. When I see Rodrigo and Kevin Gameiro, they have serious fire-power. This team is very good at counter-attack football. Celtic have to keep their heads and be patient for the right moments. If they can stop Parejo and be aggressive, then I can see something happening. Oliver Burke has been good and is scoring goals, so he could be in the thick of it, but I am not totally convinced in this one.
CHARLIE SAYS: 2-1 (11/1 with Sky Bet)
Malmo vs Chelsea, Thursday, 8pm
These are the games Eden Hazard normally gets a rest. Chelsea face Manchester United in the FA Cup. It might be the cop-out that Maurizio Sarri requires. He has the Carabao Cup final, but is he looking forward to it after Sunday? It would be a happy return beating United. I think he will go with a soft-option team. Where has Andreas Christensen been? He was playing all the time and now he has been bombed out. How does Ruben Loftus-Cheek feel being put on at 4-0, 5-0 down? I think Olivier Giroud might play, but the others in there I could not tell you. It is just about Chelsea getting back on the road again, and I think they will get there. They will be saying let's get a result in Malmo and see where it takes us.
CHARLIE SAYS: 1-2 (15/2 with Sky Bet)