Arsenal vs Molde | Thursday 5th November 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
Arsenal are looking to continue their 100% record in this season’s Europa League as they host Molde at The Emirates on Thursday. The mood around the Gunners camp can only be one of confidence and positivity after finally winning away at a fellow Big Six club last weekend, after defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in the league since September 2006.
Despite recent results and a fantastic turnup at Old Trafford, the Gunners still don’t fare too well on the performance data, averaging an Expected Goals (xG) output of 1.13 and they also aren’t having too much possession inside the opposition penalty area.
Mikel Arteta’s approach is certainly to start your way up from defence and build from there. He is more defensively-minded than previous Arsenal managers, that’s for sure. This is backed up in the xG against, with Arteta’s side limiting opposition to just 1.1xG per game. Their average possession in the Premier League at 51.4% is far lower than previous Arsenal eras and they are no longer a possession-based football side. So far, teams like Everton and Southampton are averaging more of the ball.
It is therefore no surprise to see Arsenal playing out three 1-0’s on the bounce in the Premier League. Arteta has clearly sorted out the leaky defence of recent years but now needs balance at the top end. The penalty dispatched by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in Manchester was one of only two shots on target, which may be a worry going forward.
I’d be surprised to see him start on Thursday, though, with Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Nicolas Pepe all impressing against Dundalk last week. Arteta’s side outplayed Dundalk from start to finish, but that wasn’t surprising considering the 1/16 quotes before kick-off. They face a tougher test this week as Molde come to London, but the bookmakers are still expecting a routine Gunners victory, seeing them go off at heavy 1/4 favourites.
Molde have 15 wins from 23 games to their name in this season’s Eliteserien, sitting second behind Bodo/Glimt. The visitors have won their last six in all competitions, sitting on six points with Arsenal at the top of Group B. Arsenal were strong favourites to win this group though and the onus and pressure will be on The Gunners to perform under the lights on Thursday.
Having said that, I’m still opposing the visitors and backing Arsenal to make it three from three in their group and defeat Molde, with Under 3.5 Goals in the match, available at 11/8 with Bet365. It’s a similar price with most major bookmakers
Arsenal matches in the Europa League have seen Under 3.5 cop in six of the last seven, and all seven of their wins in all competitions this season have seen it land. I think it’s a more than fair price given Arsenal are yet to win this season with four or more goals in the game.
These statistics back up what we highlighted earlier in that the new philosophy and style under the Spaniard has seen Arsenal games produce far fewer goals.
Arsenal vs Molde – Arsenal to win and Under 3.5 Goals (11/8 Bet365)