Arsenal should seal progress to the last 32 of the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League by beating Eintracht Frankfurt at home on Thursday night.
The Gunners are in control of Group F, and a win over the visitors from the Bundesliga would guarantee top spot ahead of the final matchday. Arsenal won the reverse fixture 3-0 in Germany back in September, but the north London club have been mired in a slump recently.
Unai Emery's team have won just one of their last eight matches in all competitions, leaving the Spaniard under intense pressure to keep his job. A thin crowd is expected at the Emirates Stadium, with Frankfurt fans banned and home supporters disgruntled with the current direction under Emery.
Date: Thursday, November 28
Time: 8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET
TV Info: BT Sport 2
- Arsenal: -105 (bet $105 to win $100)
- Frankfurt: +285 (bet $100 to win $285)
- Draw: +260
Odds per Caesars.
Frankfurt supporters are banned from attending following incidents of unrest during a game against Vitoria Guimaraes in October. Even so, Simon Collings of the London Evening Standard detailed how Arsenal have restricted ticket exchange options for home fans who many not wish to attend.
In addition, the Gunners "have laid on extra security to ensure there is not a repeat of the Cologne game in 2017, when visiting supporters clashed with stewards, causing kick-off to be delayed."
The anticipated sparse crowd will make for a strange atmosphere during what is already a testing time for Emery. He is in danger of losing the support of those above him, according to The Athletic's David Ornstein (h/t Rhys Daly of the Daily Express): "Things are on the pitch, and to a certain extent off the pitch, spiralling out of control, and it could get to a point that they feel they have to make a change."
Replicating past success in the Europa League could be Emery's only way to avoid the boot. He won the tournament three times with Sevilla and guided Arsenal to last season's final.
Winning the Europa League looks like the Gunners' best bet to qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League, given they are eight points adrift of the top four.
Emery still has the attacking quality to help his team thrive in Europe. Yet he has struggled to unlock the potential of club-record signing Nicolas Pepe:
Fortunately for Emery, Pepe's fellow summer signing Gabriel Martinelli has made a fast start to life with Arsenal. The Brazilian may be given the nod to start in a competition he has impressed in so far:
This is a good game for Pepe, Martinelli and others to prove their worth considering Frankfurt are winless in three matches. However, the team that reached the semi-final last season still have enough ingenuity in the final third to cause Arsenal's shaky defence a few problems.
Bas Dost, 30, is an experienced striker who can boss teams in the air, while Filip Kostic provides, pace, trickery and an eye for a pass from the flanks. If Frankfurt make a fast start, the visitors will capitalise on the nerves among the Arsenal players and any frustration from the stands.