Sunday, January 20, 2019

Prediction: Qarabag vs Arsenal

Verdict: Arsenal to Win to Nil

Best Odds: 13/10

Bookmaker: bet365

Arsenal travel to Azerbaijan for their Europa League clash against Qarabag on Thursday. The Gunners are coming off from a series of good results and will be keen to extend the streak in their midweek challenge.

Qarabag

Azerbaijan side Qarabag has become a European mainstay over the past couple of seasons after first making it past the qualifiers of an international competition back in the 2014/15 season. They do not have a record to be proud of, however, winning only once in 12 home attempts against opposition from the upper echelons of Europe’s football.

Qarabag have thus far played four matches against an English side, losing all of them. They have conceded 14 goals during that time, struggling to make any kind of an impact which should be quite indicative ahead of the Arsenal visit. Qarabag opened this season’s edition of the Europa League with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Sporting CP but their home form has been a stark contrast to their international exploits. The Azerbaijani heavyweights have yet to lose a game in the Azerbaijan Premier League and sit level on points with Nefci Baku with only one goal difference keeping them away from the league summit after six rounds into the new season.

Team News

Spanish midfielder Michel did not feature in Qarabag’s opening Europa League match but is expected to return for the visit of Arsenal.

Manager Gurban Gurbanov should not have any selection issues ahead of the Thursday’s match.

Arsenal

Arsenal did not get off to the best of starts after losing the opening two Premier League matches but the Gunners picked up the pace with seven consecutive victories and are slowly amassing points under the guidance of Unai Emery. The Spaniard replaced Arsen Wenger during summer and is still getting accustomed to his new surroundings but should still be complimented for the changes he brought with him.

Arsenal have yet to hit the top gear and put in a ruthless performance as they are still getting to truly learn the Emery style of play and Qarabag could be the ideal opportunity for the team to put things together right. The Gunners are coming off from a heavily fought 2-0 win over Watford and the boss is widely expected to rotate his squad once again to keep the players fresh for the challenges that rest ahead. Former Sevilla manager has thus far used 21 different players across eight games in all competitions and should be expected to field a similar line-up we saw against Vorskla last time out in the Europa League.

Team News

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling to Baku due to the ongoing political dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Dinos Mavropanos and Laurent Koscielny are out of contention.

Petr Cech sustained a hamstring injury against Watford and will be replaced by Bernd Leno, while Ainsley Maintland-Niles has a small fracture to his left fibula and is not expected to be fully available before November.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Arsenal won last seven matches across all competitions
  • Gunners conceded only one goal in last three games
  • Qarabag have lost all previous four matches against English opposition
  • Azerbaijani side failed to keep a clean sheet in three of their last four matches
  • Qarabag lost only two of their last ten home games

Conclusion

Qarabag might be one of the most dominant forces in Azerbaijan but their European form – and especially against English sides – is nothing to be proud of. Arsenal, on the other hand, are coming off from a steady run which saw them win last seven matches and we widely expect them to dominate the proceedings and grab a much-needed victory.

Verdict: Arsenal to Win to Nil

Best Odds: 13/10

Bookmaker: bet365

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