Arsenal did a great job in the group stage of the Europa League and easily finished at the top of their respective group. They will now meet an old acquaintance in Belorussian side BATE in the round of 32, as the two teams clash for the second consecutive season. Arsenal did great last season in both matches against BATE and I expect something similar to happen once again.
Date/Time: 2-14-2019, 12:55 EST
Spread: Arsenal -1.25
Total: 2.75 Goals
BATE have dominated the domestic Belorussian competitions and have been named champions in each of the previous 13 seasons. This season they actually played in the Champions League qualifiers but were eliminated and ended up in the Europa League group stage for the fourth time in their history. They grabbed just three points from their first four games but won their last two matches and qualified as runners-up in the group. This will be the third time that BATE reach the knock-out phase of the Europa League and first in the last six years. BATE had not won in five consecutive European home matches before a 0-2 win over Mol Vidi in the group stage. Their overall record at home in the Europa League, qualifiers included, stands at 6-7-5. The biggest disadvantage for BATE is the lack of match fitness, as they haven’t played a competitive match since mid-December.
On the other hand, Arsenal struggled in the Premier League last season and ended up at the 6th spot of the league table, the lowest placing under coach Wenger. After 19 consecutive seasons in the Champions League, Arsenal started from the Europa League this season and had a pretty easy job in their group. They only conceded goals in the 2-4 premiere win over Vorskla Poltava, and went undefeated in their next five matches (4-0-1) without even conceding a single goal. Arsenal won all three away goals in that stage, and their away record in two Europa League campaigns stands at 7-2-1 with 19 goals scored and just six conceded. However, Arsenal have struggled to get results on the road lately, winning just two of their last eight away matches in all competitions (2-4-2).
The two teams also met last season in the group stage of the Europa League, where Arsenal easily won both matches. They were great in a 4-2 win in this venue before a massive 0-6 win at home that saw the Gunners top the group while BATE finished at the bottom.
Arsenal should be able to take the advantage from this first leg no matter which line-up the coach will use. The gap in quality is just too big, while BATE haven’t played a competitive match in two months. I will go with Arsenal on this one but I wouldn’t be surprised if they conceded as well.
Europa League BATE vs Arsenal Spread and Prediction: Arsenal -1.25 (-118)