Rapid Vienna vs Arsenal | Thursday 22nd October 2020, 17:55 | BT Sport
Arsenal travel to Austria on Thursday evening to kick-start their Europa League campaign against Rapid Vienna. This game is to go ahead despite one Rapid player testing positive for Covid-19.
Mikel Arteta’s men are massive favourites at 4/7 with the bookies and the Spaniard will surely be focussing on going all the way in this year’s competition to get Arsenal back in the Champions League. They have started well this season, it must be said, only narrowly losing to Manchester City last time out.
The Gunners face a Rapid side who have won three of their opening four Austrian Bundesliga games. The Green & Whites are second in the table, as they look to challenge Red Bull Salzburg, who have won the last seven consecutive doemstic titles.
The Vienna club are full of confidence ahead of this one, and this looks to be a trickier test than the odds may suggest. The hosts missed out on a Europa League campaign last season, but the season before last were knocked out at the hands of Inter Milan in the first knockout stage.
Inter are the only team to have won away to Rapid in nine matches. In fact, the last English side to face Rapid Vienna was Aston Villa way back in 2010, also in the Europa League.
Neither side has had problems in front of goal this season. The Green & Whites have scored 10 in their opening four league encounters, with frontman Taxiarchis Fountas being the main threat. He has scored an impressive seven goals across all competitions, and will be looking to trouble Arsenals backline here.
The Greek international has great acceleration and is very agile, and at such a young age of 20, looks to be a huge talent. The best price on him notching past the London club on Thursday is 21/10 with Bet365.
For Arsenal, it is interesting to see what side Arteta fields considering they face Leicester on Sunday at The Emirates. We could expect a debut to be given to Alex Runarsson in goal, as the Icelandic international has not yet featured. However, Bernd Leno did start in both Carabao Cup fixtures earlier this season.
I doubt captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will start, which could see an exciting and electric front three in Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Nicolas Pepe take centre stage. That frontline could be devastating on the break in the Austrian capital and the card markets for Vienna could appeal given their pace and trickery.
Pavel Kralovec has the whistle for this contest who loves a card. He has shown 21 yellow cards in just four Fortuna Liga games this season. The Czech referee has been a UEFA referee for 15 years so is highly experienced and showed 14 yellow cards and 1 red in just two Europa League games in 2019/20.
The Gunners may be unbeaten in all of their last three away matches in the Europa League but two of those games saw the draw cop, when held by Vitoria Guimaraes and Standard Liege, while they only edged past Olympiakos 1-0, in a scrappy game that was a harsh result on Olympiakos. That said, the price on the draw does appeal at 10/3.
I’m not convinced Arsenal should be heavy favourites for this one, after all the group stages are a long process and Arsenal’s form at The Emirates may determine their success. A draw would not be the worse result in the world for the North Londoners, especially considering Vienna are the team expected to qualify along with Arsenal.
This draws me on nicely to my one and only bet – I’m taking Rapid Vienna on the Double Chance market given their home record. They are likely to be Arsenal’s closest challengers in Group B and will fancy their chances against Arteta’s men.
I’m chucking in Under 5 Goals as well as I’m not expecting plenty of goals, given Arsenal’s improvement at the back at the start of this season. That gives us a juicy quote of 8/5 with Unibet’s Bet Builder market. It is 6/4 with bet365 which is also worth taking in my view.
Rapid Vienna vs Arsenal – Rapid Vienna Double Chance and Under 5 Goals (8/5 Unibet)