Verdict: Arsenal win
Best Odds: 4/7
Looking to get their Europa League campaign off to a winning start on Thursday evening, Arsenal will make the trip to Austrian outfit Rapid Wien.
Starting with the hosts, while Rapid Wien might have had to drop down to the Europa League after watching their Champions League adventure brought to a halt thanks to a 2-1 defeat away at Gent, the Austrian side have bounced back in impressive fashion. Picking up a morale-boost over the weekend before their mouthwatering showdown in midweek after landing a 5-1 romp away at Wiener Neustadt on cup duties, Head Coach Dietmar Kühbauer finds his side in the midst of a three-match winning run across all competitions. If Die Grün-Weißen are to pick up what would be a famous victory at the Allianz Stadion, they could be calling on attacking MVP Taxiarchis Fountas to lead their European charge. Helping Rapid Wien pick up 10 points from their opening four Bundesliga appearances this season, the Greek international has already recorded four goals this year and will lead the line on Thursday evening. However, it should be noted, the last time Kühbauer’s men were seen on Europa League duties, they were hit with a 4-0 drumming at the hands of Italian giants Inter Milan.
Aside from one unnamed squad member who tested positive for COVID-19, Rapid Wien have a full squad to choose from on Thursday evening.
As for the visitors, although Mikel Arteta might have been quick to praise his side following their 1-0 defeat away at former Premier League champions Manchester City last weekend, Arsenal will be hoping for a real bounce on foreign soil. Seen as a landslide pick to come out on top of Group B, a group they share with Rapid Wien, Dundalk and Molde, the Gunners will also be desperate to put their stunning Europa League exit earlier in the year behind them. Watching Olympiacos pull off what was the most shocking of turnarounds as they knocked Arteta’s men out in North London, Arsenal have managed to win just one of their last five European appearances, a run that has seen them drop points against the likes of Standard Liège and Vitoria Guimaraes. Expected to make some changes to the squad that fell short at the Etihad over the weekend, it could be worth keeping an eye out for Alexandre Lacazette. Already recording three Premier League strikes this season, the former Lyon striker has also found the net in back-to-back Europa League contests on foreign soil.
Arsenal defender Rob Holding misses out on the trip to Vienna and is likely to be sidelined for around three weeks with a hamstring strain.
Deadline Day arrival Thomas Partey could be in line to start at the heart of the Gunners’ midfield on Thursday evening.
Key Factors to Consider
- Including that stunning 2-1 defeat against Olympiacos in last season’s tournament, Arsenal have managed to win just one of their last five Europa League appearances.
- Alexandre Lacazette has recorded back-to-back Europa League strikes on foreign soil.
- Rapid Wien were last seen on Europa League duties getting hit with a 4-0 drumming at the hands of Inter Milan.
- Five of Arsenal’s last six Europa League matchups have finished with both teams finding the net.
- Each of Rapid Wien last five home fixtures have seen over 2.5 goals by the final whistle.
While Arsenal might have only managed to open their Europa League adventure coming off the back of that 1-0 defeat at the Etihad, the Gunners should be confident of laying down an early marker on Thursday evening. Looking to write their wrong against Olympiacos earlier in the year, Mikel Arteta’s men are seen as a landslide pick to top Group B. With Thursday’s hosts last seen on European duties getting hit with a 4-0 drumming at the hands of Italian giants Inter Milan, Rapid Wien could be in for a tricky test in midweek.
Verdict: Arsenal win
Best Odds: 4/7
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