50/50. According to Arsene Wenger, Arsenal’s chances of advancing past CSKA Moscow are 50/50. We’ll never know whether that’s Wenger tempering expectations, trying to send a message to his team, speaking in manager, or Arsene being Arsene, but you’d hope for a bit more optimism from the boss heading into the club’s biggest game so far.
The good news is Arsenal are fully fit heading into tomorrow’s match at the Emirates. Petr Čech has recovered from the injury that forced him to miss the match against Stoke, and Wenger hinted that he may start. The boss also said that Alexandre Lacazette is fully fit following his run-out at the weekend but did not reveal whether the Frenchman would pip Danny Welbeck for the starting lineup.
CSKA will be without regular starting defenders Mario Fernandes (hamstring injury) and Kirill Nababkin (yellow card accumulation) as well as long-term absentees Viktor Vasin and Astemir Gordyushenko.
The Koni get nearly a quarter of their goals from Brazilian forward Vitinho, who loves to shoot from distance but is also not afraid to take defenders on. CSKA also gets significant secondary goal-scoring from its midfield. The Russian side’s offensive prowess was on display in the last round of the Europa League where they scored 3 goals in the second leg at Lyon to advance on away goals.
Arsenal and CSKA Moscow have only played each other twice in the clubs’ history - in the group stage of the 2006-07 Champions League. CSKA beat Arsenal 1-0 in Moscow and earned a draw at the Emirates. Arsenal eventually won the group and CSKA failed to advance.
Everybody knows what’s at stake for Arsenal in the Europa League and the importance of winning the competition, so I won’t repeat it. Time for the Gunners to put up or shut up.
WHO: Arsenal vs. CSKA Moscow
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, London
WHEN: Thursday, April 5th, 2018 12:05 PM PT | 3:05 PM ET | 8:05 PM BT
US TV: FS1. Streaming on FS:GO and ESPN3.
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