Arsenal are struggling in the Premier League, but they have been flawless in the Europa League and Kevin Hatchard reckons that success will continue in Norway on Thursday...
"Molde have a long unbeaten run at home in the UEL, but the first game between these two underlined the gulf in quality."
Molde v Arsenal
Thursday 26 November, 17:55
Live on BT Sport 2
Wounded Molde still in hunt for glory
For the first time in their history, Bodo Glimt were crowned as Norwegian champions at the weekend, and their success was fully deserved. Molde have been dethroned, and are 18 points behind the new champions. Although Erling Moe's side are likely to finish second, watching Bodo Glimt soar clear of them has doubtless been a sobering experience.
However, continental success is still a possibility. If Molde could reach the knockout phase of the Europa League, that would be a massive achievement. They haven't escaped a group phase since 2016, when they reached the last 32 of this competition.
Molde were thrashed 4-1 at the Emirates, but having secured wins against Dundalk and Rapid Vienna, they will still be in contention even if they lose here. Striker Ohi Omoijuanfo could feature after completing a COVID-19 quarantine period, while Kristoffer Haraldseid is injured.
Arteta struggling to drown out the noise
As Mikel Arteta gamely pushes forward his agenda as Arsenal boss, there is growing discontent. A 0-0 draw at Elland Road on Sunday saw the Gunners escape with a point from a game that Leeds United should have won, and Arsenal are five points off the top four and seven points behind old foes and Premier League leaders Tottenham.
Vstrong>Nicolas Pepe, having shone in the Europa League to earn a starting top in the top flight, blew his big chance as he got himself sent off. If Arteta is to keep ramming home a message of discipline to his players, Pepe may find himself in the doghouse for quite a while.
The Europa League has provided Arsenal with respite in a tough and sometimes bleak campaign. The Gunners have won all three games, and some of their youngsters and fringe players have shone. They'll be given another chance to step into the spotlight on Thursday, as Arteta is without a host of players.
Mohamed Elneny and Sead Kolasinac have both tested positive for COVID-19, and at time of writing seemed unlikely to feature. Defenders Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari are on the way back from injury but are short of fitness, Bukayo Saka and Willian have picked up knocks, while Kieran Tierney is expected to be rested after taking on a heavy workload for club and country.
Gunners to maintain 100% record
Arsenal showed their superiority in the reverse fixture, and even with a weakened side they should win again. Molde have an unbeaten home record in this competition that dates back to 2015, but they aren't the team they were a year or two ago, and few of those games were against sides of Arsenal's calibre.
I'll back Arsenal to win and for there to be at least two goals at 1.910/11 on the Sportsbook's Same Game Multi. That bet has paid out in all three of Arsenal's UEL games so far, and eight of Molde's last nine matches have featured at least three goals, so you may even be tempted to back Arsenal/Over 2.5 Goals at 2.35/4.
Lacazette to end goal drought, if Arteta picks him
Alexandre Lacazette was left out of the Leeds stalemate entirely, and with Pepe on the naughty step, I'd say there's a good chance he'll play. The Frenchman scored in his opening three games of the Premier League season, and although he hasn't netted since, I think he'll get chances to score if he starts.
I'd back Lacazette to score at 13/10 on the Sportsbook, but if he's left on the bench, it's also worth considering Eddie Nketiah at 5/4.
Kevin Hatchard 2020-21 P/L
Points staked: 109
Points Returned: 102.29
P/L: -6.71 points