Crvena Zvezda v Arsenal: Europa League Match Preview
Crvena zvezda host Arsenal in Matchday 3 of Group H of the Europa League tonight, at the Stadion Rajko Mitic, Belgrade, Serbia (6.00pm kick-off UK time).
The match will be played in front of a 50,00 sell-out crowd.
The Crveno-beli (Red-and-Whites) are one of three teams to have made it all the way from the first Europa League qualifying round to the group stage this season, along with Skënderbeu and Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
Crvena zvezda are unbeaten in five European home games this season (W4 D1).
The draw was against BATE Borisov in their opening Group H match (1-1).
They won their second Group H fixture 1-0 against FC Koln in Germany.
Crvena beat newly promoted FK Mačva Šabac 4-0 in the Serbian Superliga on Saturday, at the Stadion Rajko Mitic. The goals were scored by Boakye 20′, Protić (og) 29′, Pešić 53′, Luka Ilić. 89′. The result keeps Crvena top of the Superliga table.
Crvena may prove a tougher nut than FC Koln and BATE Borisov. They have only conceded three goals in 14 matches in the Serbian SuperLiga and Europa League group stage this season.
Arsenal have won both of their opening Group H matches; 3-1 at home to FC Koln and 4-2 away to BATE Borisov.
The Gunners have not lost (over 90 minutes) in seven UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League games (W6 D1) since a 2-1 reverse at Deportivo La Coruña in March 2000.
Arsenal were beaten 2-1 by Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday in the Premier. Per Mertesacker opened the scoring for the Gunners in the first half, but second half goals from Troy Deeney and Tom Cleverley secured all three points from the Hornets.
The teams met in the 1978/79 UEFA Cup third round, Branko Stanković’s Crvena zvezda winning 1-0 in Belgrade – Cvijetin Blagojević the scorer – and then making it through to the next round with a 1-1 draw with Terry Neill’s men at Highbury, Dušan Savić’s late effort cancelling out an Alan Sunderland goal.
Striker Richmond Boakye is attracting interest from Premier League clubs, including Chelsea
The 24-year-old Ghana International has scored three league goals this season and a spectacular winner for the Serbian side in their 1-0 win over Cologne in the Europa League last month.
Youngster Luka Ilić is on loan from Arsenal’s Premier League rivals Manchester City. Ilić made his first Crvena start on Saturday against FK Mačva Šabac and he scored in the 4-0 win.
Jack Wilshere impressed against BATE Borisov and will be keen to press his claim for a recall to the Premier League starting eleven and to the England squad.
Midfielder Guelor Kanga is likely to miss out after suffering a thigh injury.
Nemanja Milić won’t feature because he’s only returned to training after injury. Ricardinho and Abraham Frimpong are also out injured.
Arsene Wenger will make wholesale changes to the side that started in the defeat to Watford on Saturday.
Shkodran Mustafi is out for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury.
Senior players such as Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott are likely to be in the starting eleven. They will be supplemented once again by youngsters including Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson.
Mathieu Debuchy is in line for his first start in 11 months, after 16 minutes of action for Arsenal since November 2015.
Milojević returned to Crvena zvezda in June 2017, having played for the club in 1996. He spent much of his playing career in Greece with Panathinaikos and Iraklis, and headed back there as coach of Panionios from 2016–17.
“At last we can speak about the Arsenal game. It’s going to be a huge occasion because we’ll host one of the best clubs in the world, a club that competes in, what is for me, Europe’s strongest league. We were happy when we were drawn with Arsenal because we haven’t had a game like that in a while. Our history demands that we face the biggest clubs all the time.
Arsenal play modern football. We will do our best and will compete with them. Our match preparations were no different to those before other games. I trust my players completely and I know that they don’t need any extra motivation for tomorrow’s clash.
They are an experienced side and their wins in Europe were well deserved and their defeats in the Premier League do not fool us – they are still an excellent team. Perhaps they will play without pressure because they are top of the group and firm favorites to qualify for the knockout stage.
I’m certain we’ll have great support from the stands, but I don’t know if that will be a problem for the visitors.
Even if they fielded a rotated team, that wouldn’t mean that they are underestimating us – Arsène Wenger doesn’t ever underestimate anyone. They participate in numerous competitions and that’s why they have so many players in their squad. They have many talented players who can’t wait to prove themselves to the manager. Whichever eleven start for Arsenal, they are a strong team. Make no mistake about that.”
This what Wenger had to say on the hostile and intimidating atmosphere his side will face from a sell-out crowd.
“The support of the team always has a positive impact, but we have the habit to deal with that – we have these stadiums in England and we have long experience in the Champions League. I don’t think that will have a negative impact on us. But of course, we are in a country which has a big football tradition, has produced fantastic players in history, a country that knows team sport and knows football very well. So we expect of course a game with huge commitment from everybody.”
Benoît Bastien (FRA)
Hicham Zakrani (FRA)
Frédéric Haquette (FRA)
Julien Pacelli (FRA)
Additional assistant referees
Benoît Millot (FRA)
Jérôme Miguelgorry (FRA)
Arsenal to win 2-1.
Betting odds (via betfair)
Crvena zvezda to win: 7/2
Arsenal to win: 3/4