Standard v Arsenal: Freddie's boys to win again

Arsenal picked up their first win under interim coach Freddie Ljungberg on Monday, and Kevin Hatchard believes they can secure another in the Europa League on Thursday.

Standard v Arsenal
Thursday 12 December, 17:55
Live on BT Sport

Standard hoping for the improbable

Belgian club football hasn't had many bright moments in recent years, and while no-one realistically thinks Standard Liege will knock out Arsenal, at least Michel Preud'homme's team are in the mix going into Matchday Six. Only a five-goal win or greater will ensure qualification, but a win and a defeat for Eintracht Frankfurt against Vitoria Guimaraes would do the trick.
Standard are eight points adrift of top spot in the Belgian top flight, but their home form has been very strong. They have won 12 of their last 14 matches in all competitions at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne, and they are usually lively affairs - 10 of those 14 games featured at least three goals.
Standard are likely to be without injured trio Anthony Limbombe, Noe Dussenne and Orlando Sa. In attack, there's a lot resting on the shoulders of central striker Renaud Emond, who has scored seven goals in 14 league games this term.

Gunners in a state of flux

It's ironic that after a big chunk of Arsenal's fanbase wanted rid of coaching behemoth Arsene Wenger, some of those same supporters hanker after someone who "knows the club" to replace Unai Emery. Whether that's Mikel Arteta, Patrick Vieira, Lord Chips Tufty-Bufty or indeed the current incumbent Freddie Ljungberg, only time will tell. Whoever it is, they need the club's full backing to crack the whip, otherwise the culture of fragility and underachievement will continue.
Ljungberg picked up his first win as Gunners boss on Monday, as Arsenal went from zeroes to heroes in double-quick time. A nine-minute burst of three goals in a 3-1 win at West Ham was a glimpse of what Arsenal are capable of when they click. However, the North London giants are still seven points adrift of the top four in the Premier League, so winning the Europa League may be their most realistic route back to the Champions League.
Arsenal know that only a five-goal defeat will see them eliminated, and even in their most flaky moments, that shouldn't be a remotely realistic possibility. Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are expected to miss out because of injury, while Granit Xhaka is suffering with concussion. Shkodran Mustafi is suspended.

Arsenal to qualify in style

I'm always wary about backing Arsenal to win on the road, but they stuffed Standard 4-0 in the reverse fixture, and Ljungberg will be keen to maintain momentum after Monday's Lazarus impression at West Ham.
Standard have to attack, and that will leave them open to counter-attacks. If Eintracht Frankfurt get into a winning position early on in Frankfurt, then that could be a hammer blow.
I'll back Arsenal to win here at 2.14.

Situation demands a lively affair

Standard need to strive for the win, and there are usually plenty of goals in their home games. Arsenal's last five games have featured at least three goals, so I can see why Over 2.5 Goals is trading at 1.56. If you want to be bolder, go for Over 3.5 Goals at 2.40.

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