Squeaky bum time at the Emirates as Arsenal look to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League for the 17th consecutive season.
Having failed to score in Turkey against Slaven Bilic’s Besiktas side, tonight’s second leg could be tighter than Palace chairman Steve Parish with a place in Friday’s group stage draw in Monaco at stake.
The Gunners are 2/5 favourites in the win-draw-win market but the Paddy Power Blog has had a shufty through the stats to try and snaffle some value before kick-off.
It’s not something the Arsenal faithful will want to cash in on but Aaron Ramsey’s 80th-minute sending off in the first leg made him the third Gunner to get an early bath in their last four Champions League games.
Mikel Arteta started the rot away to Napoli last December before goalkeeper Tomasz Szczesny followed up when dismissed in their next game against Bayern Munich last February.
With Mesut Ozil (below) liable to go missing in action at some stage – Arsenal cannot afford to be another man down or their CL dreams will be more distant than Malky McKay’s chances of returning to management anytime soon.
The Gunners haven’t lost a CL qualifier in 13 attempts and had won 12 before the scoreless draw in Turkey. Their record at the Emirates in their last 10 CL fixtures reads W6, L4. (Bayern Munich twice, Dortmund & Schalke).
All six victories were by at least a two-goal margin (2-0 x 4, 3-1 & 3-0) and the Gunners can be backed at 3/1 to win by exactly two goals tonight. If that’s too precise for your liking Arsenal can be backed at 11/10 (-1 goal) on the handicap betting while it’s even money that the game features under 2.5 goals – like all of the Gunners’ last six CL fixtures.
Wenger’s side have only failed to hit the net once (0-2 v Bayern Munich) in their last five CL home games, recording three wins and two losses at the Emirates.
Those three victories in five games (v Fenerbahce, Napoli & Marseilles) were all by a 2-0 margin with early(ish) goals (first, eighth and 25th minute) sending them on their way. They’ll want more of the same tonight with the tie on a knife edge.