Arsenal v Standard Liege
Unai Emery is Mr Europa League. The Spaniard has won this competition more than any other manager with 3 titles to his name when at Sevilla. He also managed to get his Arsenal side to the final in Baku last year, only failing to beat Chelsea in the penultimate game. He’s likely to rotate here but he will be pleased that key players are returning from injury. Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin are all likely to get minutes here and they look shoe ins for the first team once fully up to speed.
Dani Ceballos should come in as well after being on the bench in the few games, Mesut Ozil has a strange situation but Emery doesn’t look to be having him and he could favour the youngsters over the World cup winner once again. Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock should get the chance to put themselves in the window for the upcoming premier league game for the Gunners whilst Gabriel Martinelli could get the nod up front after impressing against Nottingham Forest in the League cup.
Standard Liege are the visitors to North London and they’ve got a few interesting players, notably Anthony Limbombe and Paul-Jose M’Poku but they did lose star man Moussa Djenepo to Southampton in the summer. At home they’re a team I like to get on side as their record on their own patch is very strong; away from home it’s not so much the case. Last season in Europe they lost 5-1 to Sevilla and 2-1 to Krasnodar whilst drawing 0-0 at Akhisarspor. In their last 13 away games on the continent they’ve lost 9 of them and mostly against weaker opposition than the Gunners.
Arsenal are usually pretty imperious at the Emirates against the lesser lights and even without some of their first teamers should have enough to beat Les Rogues with some room to spare. There have been over 2.5 goals in the last 4 Arsenal Europa League games as well as the last 3 Liege games so goals could well be on the agenda but the prices are a touch prohibitive. Instead I’ll happily take the hosts off a -1.25 start on the asian handicap. They should score a few here and have a much stronger squad than their Belgian counterparts.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Arsenal -1.25 at 1.850
Sporting v LASK
Out of form Sporting Lisbon finally got a much needed win at the weekend at Aves to end a 5 game winless run. It’s been a club in chaos for a while now since the ultras turned on the team and staff a year or two ago, they’ve struggle to reinstate themselves as genuine title challengers in Portugal for a long time now.
Instantly punters will look at the 1.975 on Sporting and think that’s a tempting price given their European pedigree in comparison to their opponents, but there’s more to that than meets the eye. They’ve lost their last three home games, twice against Rio Ave in both cup and league and we’re dominated by Familicao in between that. They conceded 7 times in those three games and centre half Sebastien Coates has been a comedy character at the back with some calamitous displays by him and his teammates.
There’s some green shoots going forward though, bar the super cup thrashing by rivals Benfica they’ve scored in every game and in Bruno Fernandes they have one of the competitions best players. Supporting him the Lions have Luciano Vietto, Yannick Bolasie and Marcos Acuna who can also be a threat. Their useful forward line but dodgy defence has made for some entertaining games. 6 of their last 8 have seen 3 or more goals, their away game at PSV was a ding-dong battle which ended in a 3-2 victory for the Eindhoven club.
Austrian outfit LASK Linz have punched above their weight the last couple of seasons and their impressive few years saw highly rated coach Oliver Glasner departed to become Wolfsburg head coach in the summer. They seem to adopt an attacking philosophy and it’s proved fruitful for them, although it will be incredibly hard for them to oust moneybags Red Bull Salzburg they’re moulding themselves as best of the rest in the Austrian Bundesliga. They sit 2й at this current moment and they were clear runners up last season ending 15 points ahead of 3rd placed Sturm Graz.
Die Laskler were close to qualifying for the champions league after getting past Basel in the first round of qualifying but unfortunately were just pipped by Club Brugge in the penultimate round. Still, their efforts in that see them as genuine competitors to get out of this group after beating Rosenborg a fortnight ago in the opener.
Their last three games have all seen 3 or more goals and they’ll be confident at causing problems for this shaky Sporting backline. Over 2.5 goals is attractively priced at 1.850 and looks worth a play at the Estadio Jose Alvarade on Thursday night.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 1.850
Trabzonspor v Basel
I’m happy to dip back in to the asian handicap market in an attempt to get Turkish side Trabzonspor onside as they host Swiss runners up Basel. It might surprise a few that Basel finished a whole 20 points behind eventual champions Young Boys in the Swiss Super League last year, it was a shock for a team used to monopolising silverware their native division.
They do currently top the table in this current season though and they battered Krasnodar at St Jakob Park on matchday 1 but this will be a much tougher test away from home at a hostile environment at the 40,000 seater Senol Gunes Stadium. Trabzonspor were part of a quartet who pulled away in the SuperLig last season and they only ended 6 points off champions Galatasaray which is very impressive.
They do a lot of their good work at their base on the Black Sea coast. They’ve won 8, drawn 1 and lost 1 of their last 10 competitive home games which is excellent form. Their only loss was in the second leg at home to against AEK Athens in qualifying when they were 3-1 up from the first leg and their was no need to win. There’s a greater need for them to win here though after losing 1-0 to Getafe a fortnight ago, I’m sure that manager Unal Karaman will be targeting these home games as must wins.
They lost star man Yusuf Yazici to Lille in the summer, much to the fans’ disappointment, they’ve done some interesting business with that money though. They’ve brought in a Europa League final scorer in Daniel Sturridge who will add experience and class whilst Crystal Palace misfit Alexander Sorloth seems to have found a home there, he’s bagged 3 in 6. John Obi Mikel and Jose Sosa provide nice balance in the middle of the park whilst former Schalke youngster Donis Advijaj can provide a threat going forward. Anthony Nwakaeme provided double figures for both goals and assists from a wide forward role last season and is impressing once again this term.
The hosts come into this off the back of a stunning 4-1 victory over Besiktas and I think they’ll come into this with an air of confidence and verve about them. We can back Trabzonspor off a scratch 0 start on the asian handicap at 1.82 and I have faith in them at the very least getting a draw here. Should that happen we get our stake returned so it’s a nice layer of insurance alongside the possibility of a full payout should they reign victorious.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Trabzonspor +0.00 at 1.820
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