Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Prediction: Arsenal vs Molde

Verdict: Eddie Nketiah to score anytime

Best Odds: 20/21

Bookmaker: Unibet

Looking to move one step closer to booking their spot in the knockout stage of this year’s Europa League, Arsenal will host Molde from behind closed doors on Thursday night.

Arsenal

Starting with the hosts, while Arsenal might have shown some worrying issues after returning from October’s international break, the Gunners will be boosted by their eye-catching victory on the road last weekend. Ending what was a remarkable winless record away at top-six opposition and also Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, Mikel Arteta’s men secured a deserved 1-0 win and landed their first victory in the red half of Manchester since 2006. Desperate to kick-start their Premier League campaign after finding a route back into the top-half of the table, Pep Guardiola’s former right-hand man has seen his side open their Europa League campaign with a 100% record. Eventually breezing past Irish champions Dundalk in North London last week, Arsenal also managed to come from behind away at Rapid Wien in their opening appearance as they clinched a hard-fought 2-1 victory on foreign soil. With attacking MVP Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ending his barren run at Old Trafford last weekend, Thursday’s hosts will be confident of laying down another European marker.

Team News

Arsenal have no fresh injury concerns following the victory at Manchester United. Calum Chambers (knee), Pablo Mari (ankle) and Gabriel Martinelli (knee) remain long-term absentees.

Molde

As for the visitors, managing to keep the mood in their camp at a real high after picking up a deserved 3-1 win away at Mjøndalen in Norway’s top-tier last weekend, Molde have impressed after a sluggish run prior to October’s international break. Knowing that they’re still sat in pole position to secure their spot in the knockout stage of this year’s tournament, the Blues find only their goal difference keeping them behind Arsenal and top spot in Group B. Now in the midst of a six-match winning run across all competitions, Head Coach Erling Moe has been vocal about his side’s European purple patch so far this season. Last seen on Europa League duties picking up a 1-0 win against Rapid Wien, Molde have also landed back-to-back Group B victories. If Thursday’s guests are to pull off what would be a famous upset in the English capital, they could be calling on Ohi Omoijuanfo to lead their charge. Once again bagging the winner against Wien last time out, the 26-year-old has bagged back-to-back European strikes.

Team News

Molde are still without injured defender Kristoffer Haraldseid, but midfielder Martin Ellingsten should be restored to the starting line-up, having come off the substitutes’ bench in the 3-1 win over Mjondalen at the weekend.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Arsenal have lost just one of their 13 games in cup competitions under Mikel Arteta (W10 D2), a 2-1 defeat against Olympiakos in February.
  • Both Arsenal and Molde have opened their Europa League campaign with back-to-back victories in Group B.
  • Each of Molde’s last four European contests on foreign soil have seen over 2.5 goals by the final whistle.
  • Out of Arsenal’s previous 13 Europa League appearances, 11 of those contests have also finished with over 2.5 goals.
  • Midfielder Ohi Omoijuanfo has found the net in Molde’s opening two Europa League matchups this season.

Conclusion

On paper, while Molde might be enjoying an extended winning run, there is no doubt that Arsenal are seen as a landslide pick on Thursday and the Gunners should be looking to move one giant step closer to the knockout stage. Losing just one of their last 13 Europa League matchups under Mikel Arteta, some of their fringe players should also be looking to grab their chance. With starlet Eddie Nketiah once again finding the net against Dundalk in their 3-0 win last week, we’re backing another fruitful night for the England U21’s ace in midweek.

Verdict: Eddie Nketiah to score anytime

Best Odds: 20/21

Bookmaker: Unibet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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