How many fans will be in attendance at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday?
That question is on as many lips as how Arsenal will actually get on in their Europa League quarter-final with CSKA Moscow.
Gunners natives are extremely restless and season-ticket holders have been voting their feet by staying away from recent games, which has made the club look somewhat foolish as they give the attendance inclusive of season-ticket sales suggesting the ground has been nearly full despite the visual effect pointing to something different.
But the time has come for Arsenal fans to get behind their team, as the Europa League is the Gunners’ one remaining chance to salvage something from the campaign. Should they go all the way it will be a first European trophy of the Arsene Wenger reign, and a passage back into the Champions League.
Looking at the teams remaining in the competition, the draw could have been far tougher on Arsenal. It’s true that they will have to beat the likes of Atletico Madrid if they are to lift the Europa League, but better to sidestep that challenge for as long as possible.
“There is some extra pressure on us to do extremely well in this competition but that’s part of being where we are,” Wenger said in his press conference on Wednesday, per the Mirror. “It’s an opportunity we want to take.
“We don’t live in dreamland. We are in the quarter-final and have to go step by step.”
CSKA entered the Europa League after failing to make it out of the group stage of the Champions League, but Viktor Goncharenko’s side won three of their six games. The Russian outfit won’t be pushovers, they have been in decent goalscoring form of late with eight goals in their last three outings – but Arsenal are a different test to the likes of Rostov and Terek Grozny.
Playing at home in the first leg means Arsenal have to strike a balance, as a lead to take to Russia for the second leg would be advantageous but they do not want to run the risk of conceding away goals.
The Gunners were thoroughly professional in seeing off AC Milan over two legs in the previous round and similar showings can see them through – which is priced at 1.23 with 188BET.
Wenger confirmed that he has a full squad to choose from, meaning Alexandre Lacazette is fit to lead the line in the absence of the ineligible Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Frenchman is looking to make up for lost time and can be backed at 4.35 with 188BET to net the opening goal.