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Arsenal to Face Moscow in Europa League

The Europa League quarterfinals are set to start with Arsenal having been drawn against Russian side CSKA Moscow. Per reports, the Gunners will host the first leg at the Emirates Stadium on April 5, 2018 and the return game will be held at Moscow after a full week. Spanish side, Atletico Madrid who ranked second in La Liga, will face Sporting Lisbon at Portugal. In other ties, RB Leipzig of Germany will go against Marseille from France and Italian club Lazio will face Salzburg of Austria.

Arsenal reached their first quarterfinal in eight years by beating AC Milan 3-1 on Thursday for a 5-1 aggregate win. Because of this, they are 12 points afloat of the top four place in the Premier League and because of this, winning the Europa League provides the highest chance for the team to qualify for the upcoming season’s Champions League.

Aside from the abovementioned circumstances, there are a myriad of other details that you need to track if you want to appreciate the series to the fullest and they are elaborated in the paragraphs below.

A Fortunate Draw for Arsenal

In one way or another, the mentioned development is a cause of celebration as far as Arsenal and their fans are concerned. For one, the Russian side was 21.0 or 20/1 that outsiders were going to win the competition before the balls were drawn. Eventually, they drifted to 26.0 or 25/1. Furthermore, Arsenal’s back to back wins against Milan pretty much quelled some vocal discord towards Wenger in recent months; nonetheless, there are still doubts whether the Frenchmen is going to see out the last year of his contract extension considering the infamous flops that he has done in the past.

Putting this factor into consideration, one would ask if the team should follow the lead of Manchester United and make sure that they are going at Europe’s top table next season by winning this competition? Many betting sites cut Arsenal’s outright odds from 4.50 or 7/2 to 3.75 or 11/4 and with this in mind, football betting aficionados are encouraged to check the UK’s top football betting sites and place their bets. Despite the encouraging numbers, it should be noted that Arsenal still remains behind Atletico Madrid with regard to the Europa League outright market.

Atletico Madrid is still the team to beat

Diego Simeone’s side has been there before—being in the Champion’s League finals—twice in the last four years. But at present, they find themselves in Europe’s second tier competition. This, after experiencing a disappointing group stage campaign. Despite this, Atletico Madrid remain 2.50 or 6/4 market principles to win it all; plus, they are going to face Sporting CP in the upcoming round.

Also, the Spanish side is pretty much assured of a place at the Champions League. This, thanks to their La Liga showing, but a significant number of bookmakers still believe that the Spanish are sure winners of the tournament. To add, Simeone has chosen relatively capable line ups that can back that confidence. Furthermore, their 8-1 win against Lokomotiv Moscow can be used as a gauge why they are favorites to simply win it all.

In other games, Lazio are going to face RB Salzburg; while RB Leipzig are drawn alongside Marseille. As the odds are going to suggest, those ties may seem extremely tight and the possibility of facing Atletico Madrid or Arsenal in the latter round may mean that it is very unlikely to become easier for the chasing ones.

A look at CSKA Moscow

CSKA Moscow joined the Europa League after notching third place in their Champion’s League group just behind Swiss club Basel as well as Manchester United. The team includes a number of Russian players and currently rank third in the Russian Premier League. Some of their star players are midfielder Alan Dzagoev, goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, and striker Ahmed Musa (loan from English team Leicester City). In November, the former maintained a clean sheet for about 11 years – a streak of 43 games. It is important to note that CSKA Moscow gained notoriety for being one of five teams Arsene Wenger faced more than once with Arsenal, but failed to win against. The other teams are Paris St Germain, PAOK Salonika, Fiorentina, and Port Vale.

Political Tension

The Arsenal-Moscow game is accompanied by political tensions between the United Kingdom and Russia, which are heightened by reports of a Russian-made nerve agent being utilized on a former spy as well as his daughter in Salisbury, an English city. The United Kingdom authorities believe that Russia is behind the attack, but Moscow denies such poisoning.

On Wednesday, the UK Foreign Office updated their advice to those who are visiting Russia for whatever reason. They noted that UK nationals should be wary of anti-British sentiment, harassment, and the like. They also added that the British Embassy in Moscow are not aware of increased difficulties when it comes to British nationals presently traveling to Russia, but recommend them to remain vigilant, avoid demonstrations or protests, and avoid making public remarks on political developments.

It is important to note that the last known encounter between Arsenal as well as CSKA was a Champions League group stage game that was held in 2006. It was attended by an individual that was suspected of the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB) agent. An inquiry in the mentioned incident with polonium-210 showed that the men met a couple hours before the match at the Emirates. Also, traces of the radioactive substance were found on the ground.

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Summing up

These are some of the things that football fans can expect from the Arsenal – Moscow match. For sure, it is going to be as exciting as well as exhilarating as advertised and fans—regardless of their background—are in for a treat.

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