UEFA Europa League: Arsenal vs CSKA Moscow preview


Arsenal host Russian side CSKA Moscow on Thursday at the Emirates Stadium for the first leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-finals clash, a tie that could make or break the season for the Gunners. The two teams have met in the group stage of the Champions League back in 2006 and at that time the Russians got the better of Arsenal: 1-0 victory in Moscow and a goalless draw in London. Overall, Arsenal have only managed to win two of their eight European matches against Russian sides.

The Europa League means everything for Arsenal at the end of this season because they have failed all the other objectives that they had at the start of the campaign. In the previous round they did very well to knock out in-form Serie A side AC Milan with a comfortable 5-1 score on aggregate and they have also won their last two Premier League matches. Striker Alexandre Lacazette returned to action in last weekend's 3-0 victory over Stoke and he might lead the line on Thursday because Danny Welbeck has a back problem.

CSKA Moscow reached the Europa League after having failed to qualify from their Champions League group, they finished third behind Manchester United and Benfica. However, they have won three of their six Champions League group matches and then did very well to knock out French side Lyon in the previous round of the Europa League with a 3-2 away victory after a 1-0 loss at home. Kirill Nababkin is suspended for Thursday's match, while Viktor Vasin and Mario Fernandes are both injured.

Probable line-ups:

Arsenal: Ospina - Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal - Ramsey, Xhaka - Mkhitaryan, Wilshere, Ozil - Lacazette

CSKA: Akinfeev - A. Berezutski, V. Berezutski, Ignasevich - Kuchaev, Dzagoev, Natkho, Golovin, Milanov - Musa, Wernbloom

My prediction: Arsenal to win 2-1.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Arsenal win - 1.33
Draw - 5.25
CSKA win - 11.50

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