THE EUROPA LEAGUE returns on Thursday night. Here Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) picks out his favourite fancy from Arsenal’s encounter with Red Star Belgrade.
Red Star Belgrade v Arsenal | Thursday 19th October 2017, 18:00 | BT Sport
Red Star Belgrade will fancy their chances of progressing to the knockout phase of this season’s Europa League. The Serbian side currently lie on four points thanks to a win at Koln after drawing with Bate Borisov at home.
Red Star top their league domestically, winning 10 of 12 matches, conceding just two goals. Despite not qualifying for Europe last season, they were competitive in both Champions League and Europa League qualifiers, notably getting a draw away at Ludogorets.
This season the Serbs saw off Sparta Prague and FC Krasnodar to reach the group stage, so they are no rollovers and a much-changed Arsenal will have to aware of any threat.
Despite their disappointing defeat at Vicarage Road on Saturday, Arsenal will be well fancied to come away with three-points this Thursday. The Gunners have made changes in this competition but have won both their group games thus far, scoring three and four goals respectively.
Given the magnitude of Arsenal changes expected, we have little to go by. In their away trip to Bate Borisov, Arsene Wenger made nine-changes, fielding a back five of Nelson, Mustafi, Mertesacker, Holding and Maitland-Niles.
He also made changes for their Europa League opener at home to Koln. On the both occasions they’ve conceded in the first half.
Red Star Belgrade have scored in each of their last eight European home matches including both of this season’s qualifiers against Sparta Prague and Krasnodar in which they scored in the first-half. They are 6/4 to notch again before the interval.
Red Star Belgrade v Arsenal – Red Star Belgrade to score in the first-half (6/4 Bwin)