Arsenal v Eintracht Frankfurt: Ailing Gunners to suffer again
Arsenal's season is in danger of collapse, and amidst the angst, Kevin Hatchard thinks Frankfurt can take advantage.
Arsenal v Eintracht Frankfurt Thursday November 28, 20:00 Live on BT Sport 2
Drifting Gunners in need of a change on or off the pitch
As a reporter unprofessionally made reference to Unai Emery's rather endearingly polite habit of saying "Good evening" at the start of an interview at the weekend, the Arsenal manager's face fell for a fraction of a second. This is what it has come to - a manager that won the Europa League three times at Sevilla, and that has coached one of Europe's richest clubs in PSG, has been reduced to a figure of fun.
To an extent, Emery is at fault. His increasingly complex and varying instructions appear to be baffling his players, and he hasn't been able to improve the mental fortitude of a group that continually underperforms. Defensive mistakes are made over and over again, while fans become ever more angry.
There are of course complex questions beyond Emery, about recruitment and about a disconnect with fans who pay exorbitant prices to watch their team flatter to deceive. The Gunners are eight points adrift of the top four, and a return to Champions League football seems unlikely, especially as North London rivals Tottenham have just hired Jose Mourinho. That may or may not be a long-term success at White Hart Lane, but a short-term bounce is likely.
At least Arsenal have succeeded in this competition, and they are on the brink of qualifying for the last 32. However, if they were to lose on Thursday, and Standard Liege were to beat Guimaraes, then qualification would go down to the final matchday.
Frankfurt desperate to prolong UEL adventure
The involvement in the Europa League has been a transformative experience for Eintracht Frankfurt in the last two seasons. Their run to last term's semi-finals inspired thousands of their supporters to follow them all over Europe, and they have gained recognition in Germany and beyond as a club on the up. In terms of turnover they are closing in on traditional powerhouses like Schalke, not least because continental success provided a shop window for them to sell attacking trio Sebastien Haller, Luka Jovic and Ante Rebic. None of those three have hit the heights since leaving, perhaps because they are no longer in concert, and no longer being guided by "striker whisperer" Adi Hutter.
Frankfurt badly want to qualify for the last 32, and their dramatic 2-1 defeat at Standard Liege (they conceded a last-gasp winner) means they need to pick up a decent result at the Emirates. Hutter will select his strongest available team, and he won't be bowed by the 3-0 defeat to the Gunners on home soil. That scoreline flattered Arsenal, who caught the Eagles on the counter as they chased a leveller.
Keeper Fredrik Ronnow is expected to return after a disastrous display from his understudy Felix Wiedwald in the weekend's defeat to Wolfsburg, while David Abraham will start in defence. The Argentinean is domestically banned for the rest of the year after shoulder-barging Freiburg coach Christian Streich to the ground in a recent Bundesliga game.
Gunners too short at odds-on
Arsenal are trading at 1.98 here, and although they won the reverse fixture 3-0, that was a misleading scoreline. The Gunners scraped past Guimaraes on Matchday Three, and drew with them on Matchday Four. They haven't won any of their last six matches in all competitions.
Frankfurt consistently overperformed in the UEL last season, and they are certainly capable of avoiding defeat. It's worth noting that they recently demolished Bayern Munich 5-1. I'll lay Arsenal at 1.98.
Hutter's style means goals are likely
Eintracht boss Adi Hutter is one of the most attacking coaches in the Bundesliga, and the Eagles don't really do digging in. Arsenal haven't kept a clean sheet since the first week of October, so I can see both teams scoring here. You could go for a BTTS/Over 2.5 Goals double on the Sportsbook at 1.76 on the Sportsbook.