Arsenal v Benfica
Thursday 25 February, 17:55
Live on BT Sport 1
Gunners effectively in need of Premier League elite
Arsenal got one other sobering reminder of their place in the Premier League pecking order at the weekend, as Manchester City struck early after which saved their opposition caged in a 1-0 success for the league leaders.
The Gunners managed an Expected Goals determine of 0.40 in accordance to Infogol, they usually solely registered one shot heading in the right direction. Mikel Arteta’s facet has now racked up 11 prime-flight defeats this time period, greater than they suffered in the entire of final season. They have the worst attacking report in the prime 10, and in the prime half solely Everton have a worse aim distinction.
Tough as it might be to take for Arsenal followers, the Europa League is extra the membership’s degree proper now, and progress on this competitors needs to be the absolute precedence.
In final week’s first leg in Rome, Mikel Arteta’s facet fell behind by means of a Pizzi penalty, however equalised nearly instantly by means of Bukayo Saka. Had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang not missed some nice alternatives, Arsenal would’ve struck a couple of away aim.
Their dwelling leg takes place in Athens due to COVID-19-associated journey restrictions, however the market nonetheless offers them the edge – the north London giants are 1.834/5 to win the second leg, and 1.51/2 to qualify.
Arteta is predicted to area a robust facet right here, however Rob Holding is out with a head harm. David Luiz and Gabriel are doubtless to be recalled in central defence, and the match-once more Kieran Tierney may maintain his place at left-again. Although Aubameyang does not fairly look his previous self, he’s doubtless to begin in assault. Midfielder Thomas Partey continues to be in need of full health.
Pressure mounting on faltering Jesus
Benfica misplaced additional floor in the Portuguese title race at the weekend, as they drew 0-0 at lowly Farense, and the leaders Sporting beat Portimonense 2-0. It implies that Jorge Jesus’ facet are a staggering 16 factors off prime spot, and they’re 4 factors adrift of the prime three. Failure to qualify for the Champions League can be a bitter blow given the cash that has been lavished on the squad.
Benfica did carry out adequately in opposition to Arsenal final week, regardless of using an unfamiliar again three. However, they gave up a number of huge possibilities, and crucially they conceded a leveller simply after taking the lead. Star striker Darwin Nunez was starved of service, and his German strike associate Luca Waldschmidt went off at half-time. Benfica have now gained simply three of their final 11 aggressive matches.
Jesus is probably going to choose the same facet to final week, though it stays to be seen whether or not he’ll stick with the similar formation.
Gunners a bit too brief to take the win
Arsenal maybe made the clearer possibilities in Rome, however they did not actually dominate, and it is price taking into consideration that Benfica’s targets now rely double at a impartial venue. The Portuguese giants aren’t successful many, however they’re powerful to beat. They have not but suffered a defeat on this competitors, they usually confirmed preventing spirit to twice overcome two-aim deficits in group video games in opposition to Rangers.
I’m not enthusiastic about the prospect of backing Arsenal to win right here at odds-on, however I haven’t got sufficient confidence in Benfica to lay the Gunners both.
Stick with targets, regardless of final week’s rating
I tipped Over 2.5 Goals forward of final week’s first leg, and though it completed 1-1, I’m comfortable to achieve this once more. Benfica want to attempt to rating, and an early aim both manner would actually open this up. Neither defence appeared rock strong in an open first leg, and I’ll again Over 2.5 Goals at 1.981/1.
Aubameyang to make his mark
Although he wasn’t at his medical finest final week, Aubameyang received into some nice goalscoring positions, and that is all the time an encouraging signal. He scored a hat-trick in opposition to Leeds not too long ago, and he has six targets in final eight appearances. He’s a giant-recreation participant (consider the FA Cup final season) and I’ll again him to find the net at 5/4.