Mark O’Haire’s Champions League Tips – Tuesday’s Matches
Oh Arsenal! How did you manage to get yourself into such a mess?
Arsenal v Dinamo Zagreb, Tuesday 24 November 2015 (19.45), BT Sport Europe
Heading into Matchday 5, the Gunners know they must beat both Dinamo Zagreb at home on Tuesday night as well as Olympiakos away whilst hoping the Greeks are beaten at Bayern Munich to stand any chance of progression.
It’s a sorry state of affairs for Arsene Wenger’s troops who should have been well capable of comfortably finishing in the top-two of Group F. To make matters worse, the Londoners’ weekend loss at West Brom saw Francois Coquelin injured with many pundits suggested their title challenge is slipping away as the list of absentees grows.
But Arsenal fans should remain positive. Taking the mantra of ‘one game at a time’, the Gunners should show their teeth at The Emirates this midweek and at least pocket maximum points to fulfil their part of the bargain. Anything other than a victory at home to Dinamo would be downright embarrassing and unforgivable.
Wenger’s side haven’t recorded back-to-back Champions League wins on home soil since 2012 and worryingly, only Maccabi Tel Aviv and BATE Borisov boast a worst defensive record in this season’s competition. Their W5-D1-L4 return and four clean sheets in Champions League home ties since 2013/14 are also well below the levels of consistency we’ve come to expect.
However, W4-D2-L2 in front of their expectant supporters this term (scoring at least twice in five of their last six) suggests there’s more than enough wriggle-room to put the Croatians to bed with consummate ease.
Olivier Giroud’s red card in the reverse certainly aided Dinamo’s task and since that victory, the Blues have floundered. Olympiakos beat Zoran Mamic’s team home and away and domestically the guests have lost their grip on top spot.
In all competitions, Dinamo have W4-D2-L5 of their last 11 and are without the suspended Josip Pivarnic. But it’s their rotten road record which offers most cause for concern for the Croatians – the Blues have W1-D2-L4 of their last seven trips but in the Champions League it reads W0-D2-L9, failing to even score in eight of those 11 matches.
In fact, Zagreb have lost all 14 of their continental clashes since 2011/12, losing ‘to nil’ on 10 occasions. Eleven of those fixtures saw Dinamo trailing at half-time with 10 defeats arriving by a margin of two goals or more. It’s disastrously poor.
With Arsenal keeping a solitary shutout in six, we can ignore the win ‘to nil’. Olivier Giroud has scored six in his past eight appearances for the Gunners and seven in 10 when including both club and country but 7/10 on Giroud netting in a home win doesn’t really standout as a serious betting proposition.
So instead I’ll take the 13/10 on an Arsenal victory and Over 3.5 Goals.
Four of the Londoners’ last six Emirates dates in this competition have delivered four goals or more with Monaco, Olympiakos and Anderlecht all netting three goals on each of their visits to the capital.
The hosts have notched at least twice themselves in 24/33 (73%) of home Champions League ties since 2009 so taking on-board the aforementioned stats (a win by two or more goals without a clean sheet), the 3.5 goals barrier can be broken at a handy price when combined with the home win.
Arsenal To Win & Over 3.5 Goals (13/10)
Maccabi Tel Aviv v Chelsea, Tuesday 24 November 2015 (19.45), BT Sport 2
Chelsea humped Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0 at Stamford Bridge earlier this season and Jose Mourinho must be hoping for and expecting a similarly dominant display this midweek.
The Blues weren’t quite as overwhelming as the result suggested – their four goals came from just five shots-on-target in London – but it’s fair to say performances have picked up in recent weeks, even if the 1-0 weekend success against Norwich halted a three-game losing streak.
It was just the fourth Premier League triumph of the campaign for Mou’s Blues but the Champions League has at least offered the capital club a little respite. Chelsea’s W2-D1-L1 return has nestled them nicely in second and a victory on Tuesday night in Tel Aviv could even secure a place in the Last 16 should Porto see off Dynamo Kiev.
Chelsea have only W2-D5-L3 in their past 10 away trips in Europe, scoring more than one goal just once in that run. But taking only their group-stage results on the road into account, that return reads a more attractive W4-D2-L2. And the Blues should have little trouble against powder-puff Maccabi.
The Yellows are the only side without a point in the 2015/16 competition and come into this clash with the worst goal difference in the competition (-10). Maccabi have netted just once – a penalty – and conceded the joint-most goals whilst all four defeats were by more than a solitary goal and each game saw Slavisa Jokanovic’s side trailing at half-time.
The hosts might be top of the Israeli Premier League thanks to a three-match winning streak but only once in their four Champions League ties have they managed more than one shot-on-target and even more alarmingly, the Yellows have been outscored in seven of their eight halves in Europe’s premier club competition.
Even a Chelsea side that’s struggled to find anything close to their best should prove too strong at the Sammy Ofer Stadium and the obvious play appears to be the 21/20 on the Blues to be leading at both half-time and full-time.
The Londoners’ last 17 Champions League victories saw them ahead at the interval and a repeat scenario would be far from surprising in Israel.
Chelsea-Chelsea in the Half-Time/Full-Time market (21/20)
*Prices correct at time of publication.