THE EUROPA LEAGUE Last 32 gets underway on Thursday night as Arsenal travel to Belarus to face BATE Borisov. Gaurav Chaddah (@Gchaddahjourno) shares his betting thoughts.
BATE Borisov v Arsenal | Thursday 14th February 2019, 17:55 | BT Sport
The Europa League resumes on Thursday with the Last 32 stage, in which Unai Emery takes his Arsenal side to Belarus as he seeks for his first trophy in charge of the Gunners.
BATE will be sick of the sight of the North London club, with the two sides in the same group in last year’s competition. Arsenal won 4-2 in Belarus and then dismantled Thursday evening’s opponents 6-0 at The Emirates. The Belorussian outfit will be hoping history does not repeat itself.
The Europa League so far has been a formality for Arsenal, who topped their group with 16 points, winning five and drawing once. Crucially they won all three away games which bodes well here.
BATE, on the other hand, needed a Matchday 6 victory over PAOK to confirm qualification. They finished second to Chelsea and due to that now face a difficult task to qualify for the Last 16.
Gunners can continue impressive away form
As already mentioned, Arsenal won all three games in the group stages and there is no reason to suggest they cannot extend that record here.
Emery used a mix of his youngsters, such as Joe Willock and Emile Rowe, and called upon senior players at the beginning of the campaign, as his side eased to a 3-0 success against Qarabag and saw off Sporting Lisbon by a goal to nil in a hard-fought affair.
Emery rang the changes on Matchday 5 as the Gunners travelled to Vorskla but even then, the capital club ran out easy victors, winning 3-0.
Arsenal’s away form in this competition has also seen Emery’s men keep clean sheets in all three road trips. In fact, since shipping two goals on Matchday 1 against Vorskla, the visitors have silenced each of their following five opponents in Europe.
BATE may struggle at home
BATE’s record at home in European competitions is somewhat worrying, having only won five of their last 20 in both the Europa League and Champions League.
The hosts were hammered 4-1 by PAOK on Matchday 2 and then went down 1-0 to Chelsea. They did manage to win their final home game, beating Vidi 2-0.
Domestically, they are the side to beat and nine points clear at the top of the Belarus Premier League, but clearly there is a massive gap between domestic and continental duties.
They are well up against it here.
Emery knows how it’s done
When Arsenal appointed Unai Emery, they were bringing in someone who’s bread and butter is Europa League success. The Spaniard has won the competition three times with Sevilla and certainly knows what’s required to go deep.
Emery has manoeuvred his side through the group stages with relative ease, wrapping up qualification with room to spare, which allowed a pressure free last couple of games and therefore was able to reward the younger players with game time.
He certainly takes the competition seriously and it would be no surprise if he was to field his strongest possible side for a first leg success.
Back Arsenal’s defence again
Arsenal are best price 12/25 with Marathon for victory and I fully expect them to oblige however there is little value in betting at them odds.
As discussed above, the Gunners have an impressive defensive record in this competition, having kept a clean sheet in their last five games, including all three away.
They can do the same here and I think that is certainly where the value lies. With Marathon offering 153/100, Arsenal to win ‘to nil’ is my preferred play.
BATE Borisov v Arsenal –Arsenal to win ‘to nil’ (153/100 Marathon)