3rd of October 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
Arsenal are looking to extend their winning streak in all competitions to eight games on Thursday evening, but they face a long trip to Azerbaijan and a tough match against Qarabag at Baku Olympic Stadium. The two teams have never met before and also this will be the first time that Arsenal play a match in Azerbaijan. However, Qarabag have been a familiar name on the European scene in recent years. Last season they played in the UEFA Champions League group stage and managed to lose 4-0 at home and 6-0 in London against Chelsea, while in 2015 they lost 1-0 at home and 3-1 in England against Tottenham in the UEFA Europa League.
Qarabag have won the last five editions of the Azeri Premier League and have reached the group stages of Europe's competitions in each of the last five seasons, going through preliminary rounds every time. This season they failed to get to the Champions League group stage, but they did manage to qualify for the Europa League after defeating Sheriff Tiraspol 3-1 on aggregate in the play-off. Their group stage campaign started with a 2-0 defeat at Sporting Lisbon two weeks ago. They are still undefeated in the Azeri Premier League after six matches, with five wins and a draw. Dani Quintana is the only injury concern for the home side.
Arsenal are going through a very good period in terms of results, they have won their last seven matches in all competitions and have scored at least two goals in each of their last eight games. Last weekend the Gunners defeated Watford 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium, it wasn't the best performance from them but they did make the most of their scoring chances in the second half. Their Europa League campaign started with a 4-2 victory over Vorksla Poltava two weeks ago. Manager Unai Emery will surely give some fringe players a chance in the starting eleven, but Konstantinos Mavropanos, Carl Jenkinson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Laurent Koscielny are all injured and Henrikh Mkhitaryan won't travel to Azerbaijan due to safety concerns.
Qarabag: Vagner - Medvedev, Huseynov, Rzezniczak, Guerrier - Qarayev, Dinyiev - Madatov, Ozobic, Zoubir - Emeghara
Arsenal: Leno - Lichtsteiner, Holding, Sokratis, Kolasinac - Elneny, Guendouzi - Iwobi, Ramsey, Welbeck - Aubameyang
My prediction: Arsenal to win 2-1, some players will have something to prove to Unai Emery and they will play with determination.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Qarabag win - 8.50
Draw - 4.50
Arsenal win - 1.44
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When we have in mind the current form that Arsenal showing lately (even before that game)the three goal win in this one shouldn't be that unexpected really.
All the Gunners attacking players have shown an improvement in form lately and no wonder they winning games with ease, the question for me is - how they would play when they will have to do a bit more work in defense - against the better sides I mean.
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