Arsenal vs Rapid Vienna| Thursday 3rd December 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
Arsenal welcome Rapid Vienna to The Emirates looking to maintain their 100% record in their Europa League campaign. Their form in this competition couldn’t be starker from their Premier League efforts, especially at home. The Gunners have lost three in a row at home, all to teams they were favourites to beat.
Arsenal were poor in their most recent defeat to Wolves on Sunday night. They looked so lacking in creativity and were the far inferior team.
Mikel Arteta will be looking for a reaction against a Vienna side that they came from behind to beat on Matchday 1. Goals from David Luiz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang that night saw them win 2-1 in a game punctuated by fouls, free-kicks and yellow cards.
It was a scrappy affair in Vienna in a game Arsenal were fortunate to win. They have been the better team against Dundalk and Molde in their other ties in this group, though.
Arteta may look to rest some key players with the busy December schedule already underway. They have nine games left before the turn of the year, which is roughly a game every three or four days. The likes of Eddie Nketiah, Nicolas Pepe and Joe Willock have all played well when called upon in this competition and may well be again.
Rapid are levels on six points with Molde and fighting for second place in the group. Those two meet again in Vienna a week later meaning this is a crucial game for the visitors, which could influence the way you look at the betting markets as they can’t go down without a fight. They’re three without a win in the Austrian Bundesliga so don’t visit London in the best of form.
Goals have always come Arsenal’s way in the Europa League. They have scored a whopping 12 goals in their four games this far, which is three on average and the bookies have them at 6/5 to continue their goalscoring form and bag three times or more.
Since the 2017/18 season – the season Arsene Wenger’s era came to an end – Arsenal have been in the Europa League every season, scoring at least once in all but three of their last 22 group stage matches in the Europa League. Rapid are also yet to keep a clean sheet in this group.
My pick for this one is a Bet Builder – Under 5 Cards and Under 28.5 Free-Kicks at 1/1 with Bet365.
Thursday’s referee is Romanian Radu Petrescu. Out of the 30 UEFA referees who have refereed two or more Europa League games this term, he ranks fourth-lowest for fouls per game, giving on average 23.33 per match. The majority of the other referees in this sample blow for around 27 fouls per game. He’s also given nine cards in his three games this season.
Arsenal are the least fouled team per game (7.5 times a game) in this competition, with Rapid sitting fourth-lowest of the 48 teams competing, being fouled just 9 times a game. In fact, Arsenal didn’t even take a free kick in their home tie against Dundalk when they outplayed the visitors who just couldn’t get near them.
Given that Arsenal only need a point to qualify, and I think that they will get the job done, the game may not be anywhere near as feisty as the first match between these two. Offsides do count towards the free-kick tally but given both these sides average around two per game that shouldn’t be a worry.
With a referee who isn’t as keen with his whistle as his colleagues, and with two of the lowest fouled per game teams in this year’s tournament, this bet looks a good way in.
Arsenal vs Rapid Vienna – Under 5 Cards and Under 28.5 Free Kicks (1/1 Bet365)