ARSENAL look to take a step closer to the Europa League – and next season’s Champions League – with a win against Russian giants CSKA Moscow on Thursday night. Analyst Adam Goodwin (@AGJournalism) previews the encounter.
Arsenal v CSKA Moscow | Thursday 5th April 2018, 20:05 | BT Sport
Tottenham’s 3-1 win over Chelsea on Sunday means Spurs are now 13 points ahead of their north London rivals Arsenal in the Premier League, with the top four now almost certainly out of reach for the Gunners.
Two seasons in the Europa League for Arsenal is inconceivable, bearing in mind how many consecutive seasons Arsene Wenger managed to secure them Champions League football. So, it’s absolutely vital that they win the Europa League this season, thus gaining them entry to the Champions League.
And they can edge closer to that with a victory against CSKA on Thursday.
The concern for many Arsenal fans in the Europa League knockout stages has been the lack of a quality striker. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied and Alexandre Lacazette has been in-and-out of injury. It has been left to Danny Welbeck to lead the line for the Gunners in Europe, and whilst he’s been putting in a good shift up-top, it’s important that Lacazette is back fit for this clash on Thursday.
Bar defeats to both Manchester clubs and that shock slip-up to Ostersunds in this competition a couple of months ago, it’s key to reiterate Arsenal’s tremendous home form. They’ve scored an average of 2.4 goals per-game at the Emirates this campaign, only losing three and drawing three games.
It’s important they continue this form on Thursday and secure a positive result ahead of the second-leg.
CSKA Moscow are just three games back into the Russian Premier League season after their winter break, but have started the campaign well, winning all three games. They currently sit third in the table, five points behind local rivals Lokomotiv Moscow.
CSKA manager Viktor Goncharenko was keen to strengthen his squad over the break and have brought in someone that Arsenal players will be relatively familiar with – former Leicester striker Ahmed Musa. He’s just one of the CSKA’s key players that Arsenal will have to keep quiet at the Emirates on Thursday.
When looking through their squad, “experience” could be the generous term to describe the majority of the CSKA players. Their defence has an average age of 31, including a 35-year old and two 38-year old centre-backs.
This could be an area Arsenal look to exploit, especially with the pace of players like Lacazette, Mkhitaryan and Iwobi, and they could cause CSKA some serious problems at the back come Thursday night.
The betting angle
Arsenal are best price 4/11 to win this game at the Emirates, which seems a fair price when you look at how good they are at home. And whilst I do fancy the Gunners to win, I won’t back them at a price as short as that!
So I’m going to chuck in Arsenal to win ‘to nil’, which has landed in four of Arsenal’s last five wins. That’s best price 23/20 with Bet Victor.
Arsenal v CSKA Moscow – Arsenal to win ‘to nil’ (23/20 BetVictor)