Arsenal need to overcome a 1-0 first-leg deficit to make progress against BATE Borisov, and Kevin Hatchard believes they have enough quality to do just that...
"BATE have had some heavy defeats in the Europa League in the last two seasons, and Arsenal have the quality to bring about another one."
Arsenal v BATE Borisov
Thursday February 21, 17:55
Live on BT Sport
Time for Arsenal to click into gear
Arsenal's hopes of winning the Europa League took a big dent last week, as they laboured to a 1-0 defeat in Belarus against BATE Borisov. The Gunners failed to make the most of a bright start, and their defensive frailties once again came to the fore. A tough night was made worse by a late red card for a frustrated and isolated Alexandre Lacazette.
What the result means is that coach Unai Emery must now select his strongest available side as he looks to rescue the tie. Emery has targeted winning this tournament from the get-go, and a humbling failure against limited opposition at this early stage would be a disaster.
Arsenal can take solace from the fact they hammered BATE 6-0 at the Emirates in last season's group stage, and they'll be buoyed by the fact that BATE lost 3-1 at Chelsea earlier in this season's competition. It's also worth considering that Arsenal have won seven of their last nine home games, and although they have struggled at home against elite sides like Spurs (in the Carabao Cup), Manchester United and Manchester City, they have tended to make hay against the weaker teams.
Lacazette is suspended, so Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will lead the attack. Spanish midfielder Denis Suarez may get a start after his move from Barcelona.
BATE must avoid another Emirates disaster
Even though they have amassed plenty of domestic trophies in recent years, last week's win over Arsenal was a high point in the Belarusian giants' recent history. To beat a team with such expensively assembled quality (stop ruefully giggling, Arsenal fans, that side cost plenty of money) is a genuine achievement.
However, the adventure is likely to end here. BATE have had some sobering defeats in this competition in the last couple of seasons. They lost 4-1 at home to PAOK this term, and last season they went down 6-0 at Arsenal at 5-2 at Koln. A similar defeat on Thursday evening would see them eliminated, and it's hard to see them resisting a fired-up and wounded Arsenal.
Aleksandr Hleb is likely to feature against his old club, and BATE have no fresh injury worries.
Gunners to blow BATE away
Despite their frustrating performance last week, I still genuinely believe Arsenal's quality in attack will expose BATE's flaws. I'd back them to win by three clear goals using the Asian Handicap at [2.16].
Alternatively, you might consider backing Over 3.5 Goals at [2.22], which has paid out in three of Arsenal's last five home games. If BATE were to grab a goal, that would open the game right up.
Kevin Hatchard 2018-19 Europa League P/L
Points Staked: 38
Points Returned: 38.8
P/L: +0.8 points
Back Over 3.5 Goals at [2.22]