ARSENAL begin another Champions League adventure on Wednesday in Croatia against Dinamo Zagreb. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) gives us his verdict.
Dinamo Zagreb v Arsenal | Wednesday 19:45 | BT Sport Europe
So another European campaign begins for Arsenal. One that will no doubt conclude on a freezing March night at The Emirates soundtracked by incomprehensible anguish spouted by Claude and his pals and a flurry of #WengerOut hashtags flickering before our eyes. Can’t wait!
Mr Wenger’s side have been dealt a decent draw in Group F. Yes, they’ve got Bayern Munich (at least they can’t get knocked out by them in the Last 16) but add Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb to the pool and it don’t look too bad.
It’s the latter side that Arsenal have to contend with first and at best price 8/15 the layers aren’t offering Gunners backers much juice. One alarming fact to bring up is that Zagreb haven’t lost a home match in their domestic league since 31st July 2010! I was still at school then. Well, not quite.
Sadly though this seems to illustrate how poor the Croatian league is as Zagreb’s home European results certainly don’t smack of dominance. Last season they were knocked out of the Champions League in the Third Qualifying Round after losing 2-0 at home to AaB Aalborg and then lost 5-1 in Croatia to Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League.
For all the Arsenal anger I referenced earlier, they are the model of consistency when it comes to Champions League group stage performance. Since the turn of the century they’ve qualified every time past this round and have beaten some good teams along the way.
They’ve rarely been upset by some smaller teams and indeed over the last two years in the competition have won at the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Marseille. Professional in every sense.
This is Zagreb’s first group stage appearance in three years and the last time they encountered this terrain they were beaten up viciously. Dinamo picked up just one point and lost by more than one goal in five of their six matches. I fear something similar here.
A play of Arsenal -1 on the Asian Handicap at 4/5 seems a sensible if not sexy bet but I’ll top that up with an outrageous 13/1 poke on an Arsenal 3-1 win. Zagreb matches so far in this season’s Champions League are averaging over 3.5 goals and they’ve scored in every one of them.
Dinamo Zagreb v Arsenal – Arsenal -1 Asian Handicap (4/5 Titanbet)
Dinamo Zagreb v Arsenal – Arsenal to win 3-1 (13/1 888 Sport)
All three of these sides are odds on to win on Wednesday and this treble will now doubt be popular.
Join Paddy Power before kick off and you’ll be able to back it at a huge 14/1.
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