Verdict: Over three goals
Best Odds: 11/10
Arsenal have plenty of work to do if they want to book their place in the Europa League last 16. BATE Borisov secured a 1-0 in the first-leg clash in Belarus last Thursday after a turgid performance on the road from the Gunners.
Starting with the hosts, after coming off the back of their embarrassing 1-0 loss away in Belarus last week, Unai Emery will be glad to make a return to North London. With their away record heavily criticized, the Gunners have now lost three of their last five matches across all competitions and still find themselves out of the top-four in the Premier League. Despite their worrying record away from the Emirates, Arsenal have undoubtedly saved their best performances for home soil. Aside from their FA Cup defeat against Manchester United last month, Emery’s men have lost just one of their other 18 matches in the capital. If the Gunners are to turn around the one-goal deficit and avoid arguably one of the biggest upsets in Europa League history, then the former PSG boss will be looking for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to lead their charge on Thursday. Set to replace the suspended Alexander Lacazette, the Gabon international has 18 goals for the season, including two in his last two in North London.
Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette is suspended after being sent off in the first leg, but top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in line to make his first start in Europe’s second-tier competition since October.
Versatile full-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles was absent from training on Wednesday with illness, however, midfielder Aaron Ramsey (knee) and centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos (ankle) may both feature.
As for the visitors, picking up undoubtedly the best results in the club’s history, the mood in BATE’s camp couldn’t be any higher. Claiming their 15th Belarusian Premier League title with a nine-point buffer, Alyaksey Baha’s side are also enjoying a bright run of results in Europe. Borisov have won each of their past three Europa League games; they had only won two of their previous 16 in the competition beforehand. If BATE are to carry on their remarkable unbeaten record, then they will need to put on a better display in their previous trip to the Emirates. Baha saw his side slump to a 6-0 defeat in in last season’s group stage. However, if Thursday’s visitors are to do the impossible, then the traveling fans will be looking for attacking midfielder Igor Stasevich to carry on what is becoming a very eye-catching return. Assisting BATE’s dramatic winner at the Borisov Arena last week, the Belarus international has at least three more assists (seven) than any other player in the 2018-19 Europa League.
The guests have no new injury concerns, meaning Aleksandr Hleb should return to his former home ground in an unchanged line-up.
Key Factors to Consider
- Arsenal will host BATE Borisov in European competition for a second time, having beaten them 6-0 in last season’s group stage at the Emirates.
- Including qualifiers, Belarusian sides have lost three of their four previous visits to English clubs in the UEFA Europa League; the other was won by BATE Borisov away at Everton in December 2009.
- Arsenal haven’t failed to score in both legs of a two-legged tie in European competition since the European Supercup final in February 1995, when they followed up a goalless draw at home to Milan with a 0-2 defeat away from home.
- BATE Borisov have won each of their last three Europa League games; they had only won two of their previous 16 in the competition beforehand (D5 L9, excluding qualifiers).
- Igor Stasevich, who assisted BATE’s winning goal in the first leg against Arsenal, has at least three more assists (seven) than any other player in the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League.
While Arenal may have slumped to a surprise 1-0 loss away in Belarus last week, it is almost impossible to look past the Gunners’ recent performances in North London. Picking up a 6-0 win when the two sides met at the Emirates last season, coupled with Emery’s side now scoring 12 golas in their last five matches at home, we’re backing a high-scoring encounter on Thursday evening.
Verdict: Over three goals
Best Odds: 11/10
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