BATE Borisov v Arsenal: Emery to take another step towards glory
Arsenal have excelled so far in the Europa League, and Kevin Hatchard expects that form to continue in Belarus.
"Arsenal have kept five straight clean sheets in the Europa League, and won all three of their away games to nil."
BATE Borisov v Arsenal
Thursday 14 February, 17:55
Live on BT Sport 2
BATE keen for revenge against Gunners
BATE Borisov's route to the last 32 of the Europa League was effectively blocked by Arsenal last season. The Belarusian side lost 4-2 at home to the Gunners in the group stage, and were smashed 6-0 at the Emirates. They picked up five points against the other teams in the group, so it really was Arsenal that prevented their progress.
BATE have made it past the group phase this time, but it was something of a rocky ride. They lost three of their six group games, but still managed to progress with victories on Matchdays Five and Six. On home soil, they lost two of their three games, leaking five goals along the way.
Domestically BATE are unsurprisingly dominant, nine points clear at the top of the table, but they tend to find this competition a big step up. They have only won two of their last 11 UEL home games, and in the Champions League they have won just three of their last nine.
Gunners have Europa League glory in their sights
Arsenal boss Unai Emery has targeted winning this competition from the get-go, which is hardly surprising for a man that won the tournament three times with Sevilla. He has given youngsters like Joe Willock and Emile Smith-Rowe the chance to shine, but he has surrounded those starlets with enough quality and experience to still win games.
The Gunners won their group with room to spare, taking 16 points from 18 available. They were particularly impressive on their travels, winning all three of their away games at Vorskla, Qarabag and Sporting.
Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could return from illness, while new signing Denis Suarez has been added to the Europa League squad. Winning this competition is potentially Arsenal's best route to Champions League qualification, so I expect Emery to pick a strong line-up here.
Arsenal to take a first-leg lead
BATE have done well to get this far, but they lost home and away to Chelsea in the group stage, and I believe they'll once again be outclassed. Arsenal are firm favourites to win at [1.49], so we could boost their odds to nearly evens by backing them -1.0 & -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at [1.97]. The Gunners' form on the road in the UEL and their overall approach to the competition is enough to justify that bet.
Emery's side to keep BATE out?
There's an argument to say you should back No in the Both Teams To Score market at [2.02]. Arsenal kept five clean sheets in the group stage, and haven't yet conceded a goal on the road in the competition.
Alternatively you could back Arsenal to win to nil at a hefty [2.48], something they did in all three of their road matches in the group phase.
Back Arsenal to win to nil at [2.48]