Basel v Arsenal: No pressure for Gunners as second-place awaits
Barring a surprise home defeat or draw for PSG, Arsenal will head into Monday’s Champions League last-16 draw as a second placed team. And the pressure is very much off for Arsene Wenger’s men when they play Basel this evening.
After the 5-1 hammering over West Ham on Saturday, it will be interesting to see whether Wenger wants to maintain momentum for this Champions League tie, or rest some key players.
Arsenal are 13/10 for victory in Switzerland, but with PSG at home to Ludogorets and 1/6 for the win, anything the Gunners do is likely to be deemed redundant.
But Basel could be well worth backing at 9/4, as they know that they need to beat the Bulgarian side’s result to qualify for the Europa League.
But Gunners’ fans will be plenty aware that a series of results elsewhere means that finishing second may be no bad thing.
They could meet Borussia Dortmund instead of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid could await in place of Bayern Munich, while there is little to fear from Groups B or E.
Barcelona and Juventus could also face Wenger’s men, but even if the topped the group, they could play Real or Bayern, so there really isn’t much in it.
But back to tonight, and if judged fit enough by Wenger, then Olivier Giroud looks set to start.
Injuries have disrupted the Frenchman’s season, but with three goals and an assist in his last 73 minutes of Premier League football, Giroud is certainly proving efficient.
It’s 9/2 Giroud opens the scoring, as is Alexis Sanchez although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Chile ace rested.
Basel may be romping away with the Swiss league this season, but are winless in their last seven Champions League fixtures, including two draws with Ludogorets.
If Arsenal maintain the form they showed on Saturday, then it may be tempting to go with the 16/5 on the -1 handicap.
But this fixture ultimately means very little for either side – barring a Europa League spot for the hosts – and the draw at 12/5 sure to prove popular.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing