MX23RW : Monday, February 18 19:30:02
Apr 5, 2018 at 8.05pm UK at ​Emirates Stadium
Attendance: 58,285
Ramsey (9', 28'), Lacazette (23' pen., 35')
FT(HT: 4-1)
Golovin (15')

Preview: Arsenal vs. CSKA Moscow - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews the Europa League action as Arsenal take on Russia side CSKA Moscow in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Arsenal welcome the visit of CSKA Moscow in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash with the hope of using the competition to ensure Champions League qualification for next term.

Arsene Wenger's side come into the game having won their last four matches in all competitions, while the Russians find themselves in the quarters following an inspired comeback win over Lyon in the previous round.


Mesut Ozil in action during the Premier League game between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal on March 4, 2018© Offside

The Gunners have not enjoyed the most productive of 2018s as part of a problematic run that has arguably seen Wenger's men slip out of Champions League contention, while also stumbling in the hunt for a domestic trophy this term.

A disastrous run of four straight defeats in all competitions saw Arsenal fall short in the League Cup final and suffer two losses in the Premier League against Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion, which essentially ended the club's chances of a top-four finish.

Arsenal also lost 2-1 at home to Ostersunds FK in the second leg of their last-32 Europa League clash, but were able to secure progress thanks to a positive result when the teams first met in Sweden.

Progress in this competition now seems the only way that the Gunners are likely to achieve Champions League qualification for next season. It also appears as though this tournament has provided a slight fillip for the once-beleaguered club.

Wenger's men produced encouraging displays against AC Milan over two legs in order to progress to the quarters and they will now be hoping to mount a serious challenge for the Europa crown.

Arsenal's 2-0 victory over Milan in the first leg seems to have spurred the Gunners into a hopeful run of form, which has seen them win four games on the bounce.

Those victories have seen the Gunners win twice on the European stage against AC, while also picking up two confidence-boosting wins in the Premier League, where Arsenal dispatched both Watford and Stoke City with 3-0 victories.

The long trip to Russia in the second leg could be a challenge for Wenger's men, who will likely need a positive result on home soil to bolster their chances of progress. Arsenal have, however, lost four of their last eight fixtures with Russian opponents in UEFA competitions.

Recent form: WLLLWW
Recent form (all competitions): LLWWWW

CSKA Moscow

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford shoots during the Champions League match against CSKA Moscow on December 5, 2017© Offside

CSKA have had an odd season in Europe this term, suffering in the Champions League before dropping into this tournament after failing in the elite group stages.

The Moscow club will be taking part in their 20th fixture against English opponents on Thursday night. CSKA have so far won three, drawn five and lost 11. The team last visited English shores in December when they fell to a slender 2-1 defeat at Manchester United.

The loss at Old Trafford saw Moscow lose their fifth straight game against English sides, and the Russians will be well aware that they need to buck a problematic trend should they want to leave the Emirates with a positive result. The only win CSKA have enjoyed in England came in a 2-1 victory over Manchester City in the 2014-15 Champions League group stages.

Regardless of those worrying statistics, Moscow's away form has been promising this campaign. CSKA have won five of their seven European away ties this season, including wins at both Benfica and Basel in the Champions League. CSKA's only European away loss this term came at Old Trafford.

Viktor Goncharenko's men come into the game having won three games on the bounce domestically, where they find themselves five points off league leaders and city rivals Lokomotiv Moscow.

That confidence has been boosted given the club's showing against Lyon in the last 16 too. Having lost the first leg 1-0 at home, CSKA bounced back to claim a memorable 3-2 win in France in order to progress on away goals.

One man that has struggled for clean sheets in Europe is finally having a more joyful time of things. Igor Akinfeev has tended to suffer in the Champions League, but the keeper has played every minute of his team's European exploits this term, collecting seven clean sheets in 14 matches.

Should CSKA want to cause problems for Arsenal in this tie, the Russians will need to keep themselves in the contest heading back home, where English teams have often found things difficult.

Recent form: WWLWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWLWWW

Team News

Alexandre Lacazette celebrates during the Premier League game between Everton and Arsenal on October 22, 2017© Offside

Alexandre Lacazette could come back into the team having returned domestically at the weekend. The frontman will likely step in for cup-tied Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Danny Welbeck, who is struggling with a knock.

It also appears that Peter Cech might have to sit out through injury, leaving David Ospina with a potential opportunity to resume his European run in goal.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has two European goals and three assists this term, was rested at the weekend and should start on Thursday.

CSKA will begin with a front pairing of the in-form Pontus Wernbloom and strike partner Ahmed Musa, while highly-rated youngster Aleksandr Golovin will provide creative support from midfield.

Kirill Nababkin is missing through suspension, while the visitors will be without the injured duo of Mario Fernandes and Viktor Vasin.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Xhaka; Ozil, Wilshere, Mkhitaryan; Lacazette

CSKA Moscow possible starting lineup:
Akinfeev; A. Berezutski, V. Berezutski, Ignashevich; Kuchaev, Dzagoev, Natkho, Golovin, Milanov; Musa, Wernbloom

Head To Head

The two clubs have only met twice competitively and the Gunners are yet to beat CSKA.

The teams last met in the group stages of the 2006-07 Champions League. CSKA first welcomed Arsenal to Moscow, where the hosts claimed a slender 1-0 victory.

Having travelled to London one month later, the Russians were able to seal a hard-fought 1-0 victory on English soil.

As mentioned, the Gunners have lost four of their eight previous games against Russian sides, but have kept three clean sheets in a row when competing at home.

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We say: Arsenal 2-1 CSKA Moscow

Arsenal are coming into the contest off the back of two straight wins home and away in the competition and have also seen some improved performances in the Premier League.

Travelling to Russia can often be a difficult challenge, and the Gunners will be out to secure a lead to take with them when they head east next week.

Arsenal could be boosted by the European return of Lacazette and that should provide them with a boost against a CSKA side who have lost five in a row against English teams.

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Who will win the first leg of Arsenal's Europa League quarter-final clash with CSKA Moscow?

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Alexandre Lacazette in action for Arsenal on July 30, 2017
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