It is probable that most Arsenal fans’ hopes for the Europa League quarter-final draw was a simple wish – no Atlético Madrid. Those prayers were answered with a tie against CSKA Moscow, with the home tie played first on 5th April and the 2nd leg in Moscow on the 12th.
The other quarter finals are as follows:
Atlético Madrid vs Sporting Lisbon
Lazio vs RB Salzburg
RB Leipzig vs Marseille
While Wenger and the majority of Arsenal fans will be happy with the draw, there is still a bit to worry about for travelling fans given the political climate between Russia and the UK. However, on the football side of things, the Gunners should be looking towards a semi-final spot.
Draw has opened up with the loss of big sides in last two rounds
It really does feel like the competition has opened up in favour of Arsenal, considering Napoli, Borussia Dortmund, Lyon, Villareal and Athletic Bilbao have all gone out at the knockout stages. Indeed, Arsenal are second-favourites for the competition (behind Atlético).
The current odds from Bet365 after the quarter-final draw are:
- Atlético Madrid 11/8
- Arsenal 3/1
- Lazio 15/2
- Leipzig 8/1
- Marseille 10/1
- Salzburg 20/1
- Sporting Lisbon 20/1
- CSKA Moscow 33/1
Atlético have been standout team of the knockout rounds
You can understand why Atlético were made short-priced favourites, they were mightily impressive in the last round when overcoming Lokomotiv Moscow 8-1 on aggregate. As you can see, CSKA Moscow have been made the rank outsiders, so the draw was indeed kind to Arsenal. You can check out these new betting offers, including free bet options, for backing Arsenal or any other side.
So, what should Arsenal expect from CSKA Moscow? Well, you may have seen them in the Champions League earlier in the season. They finished third in the group behind Manchester United and Basel, but put in some good performances, including beating Benfica home and away. Notable players include Alan Dzagoev, a versatile playmaker who was top scorer at Euro 2012 and even has a goal against Spurs to his name. He has been often linked with a move to the Premier League.
CSKA Moscow should not be underestimated
They were very impressive against Lyon, especially in the second-leg in France, so Wenger would do well to not underestimate CSKA. However, the Champions League games against United showed that they can be dominated both at home and away. They are currently third in the Russian Premier League, eight points behind leaders Lokomotiv who were so easily swatted aside by Atlético.
Europa League success could change the complexion of Arsenal’s season
While it is always dangerous to look too far ahead in football, Wenger should now have all his focus on the Europa League. CSKA will be tough, probably tougher than the current odds suggest, but Arsenal should get through it. After that, they will of course want to avoid Atlético, but the likes of Lazio and Leipzig will also be formidable opponents.
Can Arsenal go all the way to save what has been a dismal season? They are rightfully second-favourites for the Europa League and we all know that on their day Arsenal could beat a team of Atlético Madrid’s quality. Let’s just hope that day is Wednesday 16th May at the Stade de Lyon.