THE EUROPA LEAGUE returns on Thursday night. Here Adam Goodwin (@AGJournalism) picks out his favourite fancy from Arsenal’s encounter with Red Star Belgrade.
Arsenal v Red Star Belgrade | Thursday 2nd November 2017, 20:05 | BT Sport
After falling one goal behind at the Emirates on Sunday, Arsenal completed the comeback and recorded a 2-1 win against Swansea.
Goals from Sead Kolasinac and Aaron Ramsey were enough to secure the three points for the Gunners, a result which leaves them fifth in the Premier League.
Red Star Belgrade also head into this game on the back of a win, after they beat fellow Serbian side Zemun 1-0 away from home.
Since their 5-1 thumping at the hands of Bayern Munich in March, Arsenal have only dropped points in the 2-2 draw against Manchester City as hosts. That’s 15 wins in 16 matches at the Emirates – an extremely impressive record.
They also won their only Europa League at home, when they beat Koln 3-1 in their first group game. That was amidst the 20,000 Koln fans who attempted to force their way into the Emirates; the Arsenal fans and players will have to deal with a similarly hostile environment as the notoriously crazy Serbians come to town.
Arsene Wenger has been particularly complimentary towards Jack Wilshere ahead of this game, calling for the midfielder to be recalled into the England squad for the upcoming friendlies.
Wenger said: “A super-fit Jack, I don’t know how you can keep him out of the English squad. I think he is ready personally, he was not three weeks ago, but he is ready now. In every single competition he is ready to play.”
Despite Wenger’s attempts to get the 25-year-old a recall into the national set-up, Wilshere will have to prove he is good enough to play for Gareth Southgate’s side and, so far in this competition, he has.
I imagine Wenger is looking to rest the majority of the players that will feature in the huge game versus Manchester City on Sunday, and will be reluctant to bring on the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandra Lacazette, even if they look in an uncompromising situation.
Red Star Belgrade
Red Star Belgrade are one of the twenty-two teams to win the European Cup, and have actually won the trophy more times than their opposition this Thursday.
Their fortunes have remarkably deteriorated since that tournament win in 1991, but they currently sit third in Group H, only behind second-placed BATE on goal difference.
Red Star are currently flying high at the top of the Serbian Premier League, nine points ahead of city rivals Partizan Belgrade. They’re averaging 2.5 goals a game in the league and whilst this seems an impressive stat, it seems unlikely that they’ll be capable of getting anything from this game on Thursday.
The betting angles
Despite the likelihood that Arsene Wenger will make 10 or 11 changes ahead of this match, I still think they’re more than capable of beating Red Star.
The majority of their attacking reinforcements will be rested so it’s unlikely that they’ll hit too many behind Red Star, who have only conceded 25 goals in the league this season.
Arsenal to win and Under 3.5 Goals is 11/8 with Betway and it’s landed in all of their last five games at the Emirates.
Arsenal v Red Star Belgrade – Arsenal to win and Under 3.5 Goals (11/8 Betway)