Bar an absolute clusterf*** of titanic proportions, Arsenal are going to qualify for the knock-out round of the Champions League. Admittedly, the way they collapsed like soggy Weetabix against Anderlecht, pissed all over their chips by throwing away a one goal lead against Swansea and then gave up defending at home to Manchester United, a complete meltdown isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. However, they need just one point from their final two games, and that should be easily doable.
The odds suggest they could well pick up that point at home to Borussia Dortmund who, despite their excellent European record this season, are making a dog’s dinner of their domestic duties, and are currently making Arsenal’s title challenge look positively fantastic. The Gunners are the 11/8 favourites for all three points, and 1/3 to win or draw and pick up that precious point.
We’ve seen Arsenal play recently however, and we also remember vividly how Dortmund could have put five or six past them in September, so we’re going to fly in the face of the odds with some value punts.
This bet has perked our interest, especially considering Dortmund’s European form this season. The German side have been ahead at half-time in all four of their Champions League games and in both of their last two away games in the Bundesliga – including away at Bayern Munich. Jurgen Klopp’s side have been starting European games particularly quickly, showing the kind of attacking intent on European soil that my granddad would normally associate with the Germans.
- In the first 45 minutes of Champions League games this season, Dortmund have attempted a massive 37 shots on goal. Only Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Madrid have attempted more. Arsenal in comparison, have had just 26 attempts on goal in the first half of European games, and just 10 of these have been on target.
More worryingly for Arsene Wenger’s men is that, although they have been ahead at half-time in both Champions League games, it is an uncommon occurrence to be leading. At the Emirates in the Premier League this season, the Gunners have never gone into the break ahead, and have actually scored just twice before the oranges – against Crystal Palace and Hull.
— A (@PierreRole) November 22, 2014
Aubameyang can cause Arsenal all sorts of problems and keep up his scoring rate this term. The Dortmund winger/forward is known for his pace, and a quick scan of Wikipedia tells me he clocked 30 meters in 3.7 seconds – that’s fast than Usain Bolt’s split. Per Mertesacker however is not renowned for his pace, and this could lead to a fair few problems for the Gunners.
- Arsenal have no clean sheets in their four Champions League games in this campaign, and their only home clean sheet in six home league games was against a misfiring Burnley side. Hardly a confidence-boosting stat.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (try saying that after a glass of milk) has three Champions League goals to his name, and is Dortmund’s leading scorer domestically with four league goals. He isn’t short of confidence either and has had 17 attempts at goal in the league – more than any other Dortmund player. Marco Reus (below) has had 15 attempts but will miss the Arsenal game with injury, and the only other player in double digits is Henrikh Mkhitaryan who has had 13 attempts.
To tie it in with the first bet, Aubameyang has had nine shots in the first 45 minutes of Champions League games this year, and only Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, and Maribor’s Agim Ibraimi have had more. There is every chance he could open the scoring, but at the price, backing him each-way could be the play.
If you never have a dream, how are you ever going to have a dream come true? We’re gambling on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to open the scoring and Dortmund to go on and win 3-1. The Germans have been finding the onion bag for fun in the Champions League – hitting two past Arsenal at home, followed by three past Anderlecht and then eight past Galatasaray over two games. Arsenal have scored in three of their four European games so we fancy them to find the net, although eventually fall short in our optimistic punt.
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