The Gunners have the bit between their teeth and should prove too strong here.
Back Arsenal with a -1.5 handicap on Thursday – in other words, an away win by two goals or more.
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Even the most optimistic Arsenal fan could not have envisaged this. It has been a near-perfect start to the 2022/23 season for Mikel Arteta’s side, who moved back to the top of the Premier League table with a 3-2 victory over Liverpool on Sunday.
Arsenal have won eight of their first nine domestic fixtures, leading to discussions over whether last season’s fifth-place finishers might be genuine title contenders this time around. They are going strong in the Europa League too: the outright favorites to win the tournament are top of Group A despite having had one of their fixtures postponed.
Arsenal fans are on cloud nine right now. Their most recent win was the most impressive yet, coming as it did against a team that has been one of the best around in recent years. Arsenal played with energy, dynamism, and no shortage of quality. Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have prided themselves on their intensity and urgency, but they were run off the park by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Arteta will also have been pleased with the character his players showed. In recent years, arsenal have often been criticized for lacking personality, but that charge cannot be leveled at this group of players. Liverpool scored two equalizers on Sunday, but the home team kept on coming back for more.
There is a long way to go this term, and it is notable that soccer pundits and the best online sportsbooks still have Manchester City down as strong title favorites. But Arsenal are ahead of schedule in their evolution under Arteta, and the Europa League offers them an alternative route back into the Champions League and an opportunity to win a major trophy. Both of those are prizes worth fighting for.
Bodo/Glimt were one of the stories of the European season last time out. The Norwegian side may have won domestic titles in 2020 and 2021, but no one expected them to do much in the inaugural edition of the Europa Conference League.
Instead, Bodo/Glimt proved to be a surprise package. They finished second in their group, thrashing Jose Mourinho’s Roma – the team that went on to lift the trophy – 6-1 along the way.
Celtic were thrashed 5-1 on aggregate in the knockout round play-offs before Bodo/Glimt edged out AZ in the round of 16. Their journey was eventually ended by Roma in the last four, but they exited with their heads held high.
Given their exploits over the last few years, it is no surprise that Bodo/Glimt’s manager Kjetil Knutsen has been linked with jobs in the Premier League and other major European top flights. Brighton & Hove Albion reportedly had him on their shortlist to replace Graham Potter, before they ultimately opted for Roberto De Zerbi.
Knutsen’s side face an uphill battle to reach the knockout phase of the Europa League, though. They were drawn into an extremely tough group alongside Arsenal and PSV, and while they have four points to their name so far, they have played a game more than Arteta’s side and the Dutch giants. Defeat on Thursday would leave Bodo/Glimt with plenty of work to do in Group A.
Arteta has tended to rest several of his regular Premier League starters in the Europa League. Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard, William Saliba, and Ben White were among those left out of the XI for the 3-0 win over Bodo/Glimt last week. None of that quintet began the victory over Zurich on matchday one, with Martin Odegaard also picked as a substitute.
It is a delicate balancing act, but one which Arteta has got right so far: Arsenal have won both Europa League matches and kept key men fresh for domestic assignments. We can expect numerous changes to the line-up again on Thursday, which Bodo/Glimt will hope gives them a better chance of pulling off an upset.
The Norwegians were outclassed by Arsenal last time out, though, and we do not expect this to be too different despite the fact the match is being played in Bodo rather than London. The Gunners’ strength in depth is much improved and everyone in the squad will be full of confidence right now. Back an away win by a two-goal margin or more in this one.
|Teams||Bodo/Glimt vs Arsenal|
|Location||Aspmyra Stadion, Bodo, Norway|
|Time||Thursday, 13 October 2022, 12.45 PM EST|
|How to watch||Paramount+|
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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