ARSENAL look to take a step closer to the Europa League – and next season's Champions League – by seeing off Russian giants CSKA Moscow on Thursday night. Analyst Adam Goodwin (@AGJournalism) previews the encounter.
CSKA Moscow v Arsenal | Thursday 12th April 2018, 20:05 | BT Sport
After a 4-1 win at The Emirates last week, Arsenal will hope to confirm their place in the semi-finals of the Europa League with a good result in Moscow on Thursday.
CSKA need at least a 3-0 win to qualify for the next round, and at 33/1, it looks pretty unlikely.
A 4-1 defeat last Thursday means it’ll be an uphill battle for CSKA to qualify for the Europa League semi-finals, but after Roma’s heroics on Tuesday, anything can happen.
Their two home games in this competition this season has only seen two goals (1-0 loss and 1-0 win) so maybe we shouldn’t expect too many goals in this game.
Their league games have also been void of goals – six of their last seven games has not seen Both Teams To Score landing. But with a semi-final spot at stake, perhaps a need to score goals on Thursday will spark the red and blues into life.
A lack of strikers is something that has affected CSKA this season, and they’ve resorted to playing holding midfielder Pontus Wernbloom up-front. There might be value in the 7/2 available on the Swede to score anytime in Moscow on Thursday.
A defeat to city rivals Dinamo Moscow at the weekend wasn’t the best preparation heading into this one and a drastic improvement in performance is needed if they are to qualify against all the odds.
As I’ve already highlighted when previewing Arsenal’s Europa League games in the past, winning this competition is vital for them. A top four spot is all but out of the question and so to be in the Champions League next season, they need to lift the Europa League trophy in May.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied for this competition but the return of Alexandre Lacazette will be a major boost for Arsene Wenger this week. The form of Aaron Ramsey will also please Arsene Wenger, but Henrik Mkhitaryan will be fit enough to play any part of the game in Moscow.
At 1/66 best price, the bookies clearly think that qualification will be a simple task for the Gunners. In their last five Europa League games this season, they’ve scored an average of two goals per-game, and the 1-0 defeat to Koln was the only time they haven’t won on their travels in this competition.
The betting angle
The stats would suggest that it will be a low-scoring game in Moscow on Thursday, but with so much at stake, CSKA will have to attack. With this in mind, Both Teams To Score at best price 8/13 with Betfair looks a good shout, and with CSKA being forced to play on the front foot it could become a very open game.
I also like the 7/2 Black Type are quoting on Pontus Wernbloom to score anytime, and with most bookmakers potentially unaware that he now partners Ahmed Musa up-front for CSKA, this could be an interesting angle to take.
Whilst he’s usually a defensive midfielder, he’s scored five goals this season in his unfamiliar attacking position, and 7/2 looks great value.
CSKA Moscow v Arsenal – Both Teams To Score (8/13 Betfair)
CSKA Moscow v Arsenal – Pontus Wernbloom to score at anytime (7/2 Black Type)