On Thursday evening, Arsenal make a trip to Belarus to face BATE Borisov in the last 32 of the Europa League. The Gunners will be confident of emerging with a victory to take into the second leg of the tie.
BATE Borisov have not played competitive football since December having won the Belarus Premier League at the end of last season. Despite their achievements in domestic football, the home sides record in the Europa League is patchy, as they have won just three of their last nine matches in Europe’s secondary competition.
However, two of those victories were in their last group games against Vidi and POAK to book their place in the knockout stages of the competition. BATE have a poor recent home record in the Europa League, having won just twice in their last 11 outings.
Their recent home games in the Europa League have been relatively tight affairs, with under 2.5 goals scored in four of their last five matches.
Arsenal breezed through to group stage by recording five wins and a draw in a group that contained Sporting Lisbon, Vorskla and Qarabag. The Gunners have not conceded in their last five European outings, which has contributed to three of their last four European games producing under 2.5 goals.
The team from north London have a good away record in the Europa League, winning seven of their last ten away matches in the competitions current guise. The Gunners have also won their last three games on their travels in the Europa League while keeping clean sheets in all three encounters.
At the other end of the pitch, Arsenal have been relatively prolific on their travels in the Europa League, scoring at least two goals in five of their last seven away games in this competition.
BATE have no reported injuries. Former Arsenal midfielder Aleksandr Hleb could face his old side. The veteran star is one booking away from a suspension, though.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery is likely to rotate his squad as he has done in the previous rounds. Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck, Sokratis and Hector Bellerin remain sidelined, while Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey are doubts. Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is expected to be fit to play after recovering from illness.
Arsenal are favourites to win this clash at odds of 4/9, while the draw is odds of 15/4 and BATE are odds of 7/1 to pull off a surprise victory.
Arsenal will head into this game full of confidence and should record a first leg victory if they put in a professional performance.
Will Arsenal win in Belarus on Thursday night?