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

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of Thursday's Europa League last-eight clash between CSKA Moscow and Arsenal.

Arsenal head into the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final with CSKA Moscow holding a 4-1 advantage after last week's first fixture at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners have also recorded six successive wins in all competitions, but CSKA have lost just two of their last 11 home matches and will feel that an early goal in Russia can change the course of this tie.

CSKA Moscow

Aaron Ramsey scores the third during the Europa League quarter-final game between Arsenal and CSKA Moscow on April 5, 2018© Offside

After seeing off Lyon in the last 16, CSKA Moscow would have been quietly confident of causing a second surprise against Arsenal but as it stands, playing the first leg away from home has not worked in their favour.

An away goal in a narrow defeat would have delighted boss Viktor Goncharenko had it occurred, but there will also be a degree of satisfaction after preventing Arsenal from scoring more goals during the final 55 minutes at the Emirates.

Goncharenko and his players will take confidence from Roma's comeback against Barcelona in the Champions League but while much focus will be placed on scoring goals on Thursday night, CSKA's defensive duties cannot be neglected.

In the club's four most recent matches, no clean sheets have been recorded and eight goals have been conceded and in theory, the Berezutski brothers - Aleksei and Vasili - are going to have to roll back the years to help their team through to the last four of this competition.

CSKA's home record in Europe this season is also less than spectacular with two wins and three defeats coming from five matches since September, which includes a 4-1 setback against Manchester United.

Ahmed Musa returned to the club on loan from Leicester City in January, but the Nigerian forward is still to rediscover his best form with just the one goal coming in nine outings in all competitions.

Losing to Dinamo Moscow at the weekend would have done little to boost CSKA's mindset ahead of this match, but it did end a run of three successive victories which has left the club third in their league table.

Recent form: DWLWL
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWLL


Arsene Wenger watches on during the Europa League group game between Arsenal and Red Star Belgrade on November 2, 2017© SilverHub

Six weeks ago, it was considered near impossible that Arsenal were capable of putting together half-a-dozen wins in a row and recording two victories over AC Milan, but that is exactly what Arsene Wenger and his squad have achieved.

The pressure and hostility toward the Gunners boss remains - and the Frenchman will inwardly accept that only winning the Europa League will satisfy supporters of the North Londoners - but Arsenal are at least showing promising signs during the closing stages of this season and ahead of the next campaign.

Being unable to use Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in Europe is undoubtedly a blow to the Premier League outfit, but it is at least giving the likes of Alexandre Lacazette a platform to show his true worth and for Danny Welbeck to get a run of matches under his belt, something that the England international has not managed to do since the first two months of the season.

Since recovering from a knee injury, Lacazette has contributed three goals in 122 minutes of football, while Welbeck has come through 477 minutes in eight matches since the start of March.

The progress of the duo will be seen as huge positives and while both men will not necessarily be regarded as first-choice players when everyone is fit, the pair have a vital role to play when it comes to keeping Wenger at the club for another season.

That said, Wenger will remain concerned about his side's defensive efforts, especially against Southampton at the weekend where only a stellar showing from Petr Cech kept the Saints down to two goals, and it highlighted the uncertainty at the back when Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal are not involved.

Each of Arsenal's last five matches have also come at home so while they deserve credit for winning each of those contests, it should not be forgotten that Wenger's men have suffered defeat in four of their last six away trips.

Arsenal have the ability to make Thursday's match as comfortable as they want to but if they concede an early goal - like they have done in their last two matches - Wenger will have to find a way of getting his team through the nervy moments which would inevitably follow and it could make or break the club's season.

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

Team News

Alexandre Lacazette celebrates scoring the Gunners' second during the Europa League quarter-final game between Arsenal and CSKA Moscow on April 5, 2018© Offside

Due to Aubameyang's unavailability, Lacazette will be handed a recall to the starting lineup with Welbeck likely to line up on one of the flanks.

Mesut Ozil was said to be suffering from fatigue at the weekend, but the German playmaker should take his place in the team on Thursday night.

Cech will continue in goal with David Ospina still out injured, while Koscielny and Jack Wilshere are likely to return to the first XI after missing out against the Saints.

The same will apply to Aaron Ramsey, with Wenger appearing to try to keep the Welshman fit for the club's European fixtures going forward, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss the remainder of the campaign through injury.

As for CSKA, they are boosted by the return of Kirill Nababkin, who missed out last week through suspension, while Mario Fernandes is rated as doubtful due to a hamstring problem.

Viktor Vasin and Astemir Gordyushenko will both play no part due to knee injuries.

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

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

Head To Head

Thursday's encounter will represent the fourth time that these two clubs have met in a competitive match, with both teams having registered a win apiece.

Arsenal ran out convincing victors last week but back in 2006, CSKA came through two Champions League games without conceding a goal against the English outfit.

The contest in Russia ended in a 1-0 triumph for CSKA, with Daniel Carvalho scoring the only goal against an Arsenal side which featured the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry.

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We say: CSKA Moscow 2-2 Arsenal

Arsenal showed at the weekend that they are still susceptible to lapses of concentration in defence so we expect CSKA Moscow to get on the scoresheet on Thursday night, but the North Londoners are beginning to become more clinical in the final third and should have enough firepower to find a couple of away goals.

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Who will win the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final tie between CSKA Moscow and Arsenal?

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in action during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Everton on February 3, 2018
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