Arsenal welcome CSKA Moscow to the Emirates Stadium for the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash on Thursday night.
The Gunners are favourites to progress to the semis, but given they’ve struggled against Russian sides in the past, can Arsene Wenger’s men finally end the hoodoo?
Arsenal’s record against Russia clubs under Arsene Wenger
Since Arsene Wenger was appointed Arsenal manager, the London outfit have managed just two wins from six meetings and haven’t won in Russia. They have been in fine form of late, however, boasting four consecutive wins in all competitions so they could well come out on top in the home leg to CSKA.
Arsenal’s domestic campaign has faltered with the Gunners sitting sixth in the table, 13 points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, and their entire season is riding on the Europa League. Wenger’s men look set for a trophyless campaign and no Champions League next season unless they go all the way in Europa.
Arsenal’s Europa League campaign this season
As for their opponents, Viktor Goncharenko’s CSKA Moscow side are third in their domestic league, five points adrift of leaders Lokomotiv Moscow. Ahead of their trip to face Arsenal, CSKA have won five of their last six in all competitions so they’ll be stiff competition at the Emirates.
The manner in which Arsenal dispatched of AC Milan will give them confidence of reaching the semi-finals, however, let alone the considerable talent in the squad. Wenger has Alexandre Lacazette, Danny Welbeck, Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to choose from against CSKA.
The Russian giants have danger men of their own, with midfielders Aleksandr Golovin and Bibras Natkho boasting 15 league goals scored and created between them this season. Vitinho (eight goals, three assists) and
Pontus Wernbloom (five goals, three assists) will provide an attacking threat too so Arsenal’s defence could be tested.
The Gunners would have preferred to travel to the VEB Arena for the first leg of the Europa League clash but they’ll now have to ensure they get the win with home advantage, as they’ve not even scored a goal in Russia in three attempts under Wenger.
Arsenal predicted XI: David Ospina, Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Nacho Monreal, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Aaron Ramsey, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil
Doubtful: Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny.