Two of Europe’s ‘Invincibles’ go head-to-head on Wednesday night as Arsenal travel to Croatia to take on Dinamo Zagreb. The Gunners went 49 Premier League games unbeaten between May 2003 and October 2004, while Zagreb are currently unbeaten since November 2014 – a run lasting 41 matches.
And while that may sound initially like an unstoppable force hitting an immovable object, Zagreb’s form in European competition leaves a lot to be desired and it would be no surprise to see Arsenal kick-start their Champions League campaign off with a win, before eventually getting beaten in the first knock-out round and reverting to form.
The Gunners are 4/9 to take all three points away from Croatia, against a Zagreb side that are winless in 15 Champions League group games, drawing two and losing 13. Their last victory in the Champions League proper was against Sturm Graz in 1999 when Eiffel 65 were number one in the charts for the first and only time with Blue (Da Ba Dee).
If you’re looking for a bit more bang for your buck however, it may be well worth backing Aaron Ramsey to break the deadlock at . Eagle-eyed statisticians may point to the fact that Ramsey hasn’t scored in 11 competitive games for Arsenal (Sorry Gunners’ fans, we simply can’t bring ourselves to count his goal against Lyon in the Emirates Cup), but his record in the Champions League catches the eye like a loose packet of popcorn in the Power Tower vending machines.
- In the last two years Arsenal have played 10 Champions League away games, scoring 15 goals in the process. Ramsey has scored six of them – 40 per cent of Arsenal’s total and more than any other player. Lukas Podolski got four, Olivier Giroud and Kieran Gibbs bagged two each and Theo Walcott got the other.
- Ramsey appears far more clinical on the road. He had 40 attempts at home in the Champions League and Premier League last season, scoring two goals at a conversion rate of just five per cent. Away from home he had 31 shots and scored seven times, at a conversion rate of 22.6 per cent.
- Away from home in the Champions League last year, Ramsey’s three goals came from just six shots as he proved he was as deadly as a wet fart in white pants.
The on Ramsey looks tempting, particularly as you can back him each way and get 1/3 of the odds on the first five goals of the game. Punters might also be tempted by Ramsey to score in an Arsenal win at 16/5 considering just how miserable Zagreb’s Champions League campaigns have gone previously. They may be Croatia’s version of the Invincibles, but the Champions League is a big step up in class and Ramsey can hammer that point home on Wednesday night.