Arsenal - Shakhtar Donetsk

Arsenal have six points from first two games and scored nine in those. First destroyed Braga at Emirates (6-0), then easy past Belgrade (3-1) and with tonight’s win the Gunners would practically pass the group. When they play Champions League at Emirates, home wins are common thing. Since the loss against Inter Milano seven years ago, Arsenal have noticed 17 wins with 4 draws and 12 of those 17 wins were with 2 or more goals margin. Wenger has plenty of problems in the back line. Koscielny, Sagna and Vermaelen are out (adding on that Fabianski who is in). In past, problems with defensive line meant Arsenal will be even more attacking. But, also some good news from medical service. Fabregas, Bendtner and Theo Walcott are all fit. Fabregas will probably take some part in the game as a preparation for City, while rest two should start the game.

Shakhtar also come in this game with six points. However, they had much more problems in those two then Arsenal. At first game at home, they had lots of problems to break Partizan’s defense (won 1-0). 3-0 at Braga suggests dominating win, but true is home side had possession and few great chances that missed. Then came counter attack, home attempts to save the game, another counter and 0-3 at the end. However, beside domination in Ukraine (first place, with 5 points margin and goal difference 25-5 after 13 rounds), they play very well in Europe (lost away just once since 2008, but were playing in Europa League). They need home win against Braga for second place and tonight won’t have any pressure. However, it’s not like I believe in Lucescu’s announcing they’ll attack Arsenal trying to use their defensive problems. It would be a suicide, more likely. However, only injury concern is very important players, Douglas Costa, and we’ll see is Lucescu ready to risk with him (I think he’s not).

I don’t think Wenger has too much space for calculation here (beside leaving Fabregas on the bench). It’s big difference being first, or second. In the rest three games, they have to travel twice (one trip is in Ukraine), failure today would cut the space for Wenger to play with rotating squad. On the other hand, win tonight with the win in last round against Partizan at home would bring the top. And of course, considering quality difference, Arsenal are way above. Odds are higher than I expected. Home win.

Bet: Arsenal -0.75
Odd: 1.91 Stan James
Stake: 8/10

Probably one pick from Championship, later today.

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