Arsenal simply have to win against Dinamo Zagreb tonight, and rely on Bayern Munich to beat Olympiakos if they are to have any chance of progressing to the Champions League knockout stages.
Arsene Wenger’s men have just three points from their four games and sit joint bottom of Group F with Dinamo Zagreb, both sides being six points behind leaders Bayern and Olympiakos.
The Gunners are big outsiders to go through from Group F and reach the knockout stage for the 17th successive year, and Zagreb’s coach Zoran Mamic summed up the thoughts of most football tipsters and punters, saying: “Of course it is quite a surprise. I was quite sure like most people that [Arsenal] would be top of the group.
“I’m sorry for them but they still have chances if they win – we will try and make the job difficult.”
November hit Arsenal hard
The Gunners are boosted by midfielder Aaron Ramsey’s return to training following a hamstring injury that has ruled him out since October 20. The Welshman is likely to make an instant comeback given Arsenal’s latest injury woes which saw French midfielder Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta both pick up knocks in the EPL weekend defeat at West Brom.
“Certainly for the next two months we play without Coquelin,” said Wenger, who also still without the likes of Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky.
“We’ve been hit very hard in November because until the Sheffield Wednesday game in the League Cup we had a good record,” said Wenger. “But since we have lost a few players.”
Main man Sanchez
Coquelin’s injury is seen as a massive blow for the Gunners hopes for silverware and piles even more pressure on their inspirational talisman Alexis Sanchez whose importance for Arsenal seems to grow week by week.
He has been brilliant in the Premier League and vital in Europe with direct involvement in four of the six goals Arsenal have scored so far – Sanchez scoring one and claiming three assists.
Dinamo’s cause for confidence…and concern
Zagreb will arrive with some confidence having beaten Arsenal 2-1 in the Champions League opening match in September. But that remains their only win in Group F and they will be without midfielder Arijan Ademi who has been banned for four years by Eufa after failing a drugs test following his side’s win at the Emirates.
The Croatian champions, and online football tipsters will also note that Arsenal have not won two Champions League home games in succession since 2012.
But Arsenal and football bettors will reply by pointing out that Zagreb have a terrible away record and have to failed to win any of their last 11 away games in the Champions League – their unenviable record being two draws and nine defeats with a failure to score in eight of the 11 games.
By: Joe Cahal