Arsenal vs Schalke: Back in-form Germans to spike injury-hit Gunners

Ibrahim Afellay has hit the ground running with Schalke
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Arsenal have made a perfect start to the group stage of the Champions League, but Kevin Hatchard expects super-confident Schalke to provide their toughest test yet.

Schalke are unbeaten away from home this season, and have scored at least twice in each of their six road trips.

Arsenal vs Schalke, Wed 19:45 BST, Live on Sky Sports 4

Match Odds: Arsenal [2.1], Schalke [3.95], the draw [3.65]

This is a fascinating clash between two attack-minded teams who lie first and second respectively in Group B. Arsenal are looking to bounce back from a pitiful display in the weekend's Premier League defeat at Norwich, while Schalke are bursting with confidence after an outstanding 2-1 win at Ruhr rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Arsenal have an outstanding European record at the Emirates Stadium - they are unbeaten in 45 matches at home against non-English opposition, a run which stretches back to 2003. However, the Gunners have won just one of their three Premier League games at home this season - they drew 0-0 with Sunderland and lost 2-1 against Chelsea.

The Gunners' cause isn't being helped by a glut of injuries. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby will both miss the game, while Arsene Wenger has suggested he won't risk Bacary Sagna, Theo Walcott or Jack Wilshere - all three players are on the mend but are not match-fit.

Schalke's weekend win at Signal Iduna Park was indicative of their rapid improvement under Dutch tactician Huub Stevens. The Royal Blues counter-attacked with pace and precision, and the summer signing of former Barcelona and PSV star Ibrahim Afellay is proving to be an astute move. Afellay scored an excellent opener against Dortmund, and he is linking up well with other attacking talents like Jefferson Farfan and Klass-Jan Huntelaar.

Schalke are unbeaten away from home this season, and their only defeat anywhere came against Bayern Munich, who are one of Europe's form sides. Schalke are also prolific scorers on their travels - they have netted at least twice in each of their six road trips in all competitions.

Schalke's only real weakness is at the heart of defence. Kyriakos Papadopoulos has been suffering from chicken pox, so 21-year-old Joel Matip has come in to deputise alongside Benedikt Howedes. Matip has plenty of games under his belt as a centre-back, but he's a midfielder by trade, and can be dragged out of position by wily movement.

Schalke certainly won't come to the Emirates to shut up shop, and Arsenal are always a team that likes to play on the front foot, especially at home. I think the [1.8] on offer for Over 2.5 Goals is a touch generous.

Intriguingly, three of Arsenal's five home games this term have been level at half-time, and the two that weren't were easy 6-1 wins against Southampton and Coventry. In the Half-Time market, the draw is available at [2.26], and I think this will be an evenly contested affair.

Given their injury problems and their relatively poor home form against quality sides, I think this is a tough game for Arsenal. Schalke are in their best run of form since Stevens took the helm, and they are capable of grabbing a point.

Recommended Bets: Back Over 2.5 Goals at [1.8]

Back the draw at Half-Time at [2.26]

Back the draw at [3.65]

Kevin Hatchard,

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