[ClevPicks Prediction]: Zurich vs. Arsenal: A Slaughter For The Gunners?
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Today will be Zurich vs. Arsenal. 1st round of UEFA Europa League. Game starts at 17:45, Sept 8 2022, UK time.
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It's Zurich meet Arsenal at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in 1st round of UEFA Europa League on Wednesday 8 September.
On Thursday, Arsenal's next bid for Europa League success gets underway as the Gunners travel to Kybunpark to take on Swiss champions FC Zurich.
Due to their fifth-place Premier League result, Mikel Arteta's team had an easy path into the group stage while their opponents were eliminated from Champions League qualifying.
Home team: Zurich (Last 10 games in new season: 5-1-4 Scored 16 goals and conceded 13 goals)
Contrary to their more illustrious rivals, Zurich has played in the Champions League in 2022–23; nevertheless, Franco Foda was unable to lead his team past Qarabag of Azerbaijan, and Zurich lost on aggregate by a score of 5–4.
After dropping to the second tier of continental play, Zurich bounced back to defeat Hearts 3-1 on aggregate and put five past Linfield over the course of two legs, securing their spot in the Europa League group stage for the sixth time in 11 years.
The 13-time defending champions from Switzerland exited the competition at the group stage in each of the editions from 2011–12, 2014–15, and 2016–17. However, they broke this curse in their final appearance in the secondary competition, reaching the last-32 in 2018–19 before being defeated by Napoli.
On a more depressing note, FCZ has had a brutally dismal start to the defense of their Swiss Super League championship, going winless through seven games and losing three straight games at home to Sion, Basel, and Lugano.
Zurich's loss of the highly regarded Wilfried Gnonto to Leeds United hasn't helped in that regard, but the 18-year-old had struggled in the 2022–23 Swiss Super League anyhow, so the hosts' quest for a fifth consecutive Europa League victory won't be easy.
Barring the unavailability of center back Ilan Sauter and striker Bogdan Viunnyk, who is on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Zurich should be well-prepared for this match.
Aiyegun Tosin, who recently opened his account for the season in the defeat to Lugano, will therefore be under pressure to provide the attacking danger. Fabian Rohner may assist him in the final third.
Karol Mets of Estonia played for only 45 minutes over the weekend after receiving an early caution, and Fidan Aliti or Nikola Katic, who left Rangers after four years to join FCZ, could challenge for his starting position.
Away team: Arsenal (Last 10 games in new season: 9-0-1 Scored 31 goals and conceded 8 goals)
Arsenal certainly received a severe reality check at the conclusion of the 2021–22 season after being considered the favorites for the fourth and final Champions League spot and even being tipped as dark horses for third.
The North London club, who were losing finalists in 2019, losing semi-finalists in 2018 and 2021, and the less said about their last-32 exit to Olympiacos in 2020, the better, now faces a fifth season in the second tier of European football.
Nevertheless, the Mikel Arteta approach has been successful for the Gunners in recent weeks, with the club's wise acquisitions adding to their newfound reputation as a pressing machine. However, Manchester United dragged the Gunners back to reality at the weekend.
The English giants enter Thursday's match with a 75% win rate from Europa League group-stage games, second only to Zenit St. Petersburg (79%) among teams that have competed in at least three editions of the tournament. Marcus Rashford and £85 million man Antony ended Arsenal's perfect start to the new Premier League season, but they still lead after six games.
The game on Thursday will be the first competitive encounter between Arsenal and Zurich, but the Gunners travel with a 100% winning record against Swiss opposition (six victories from six), thanks to the hat-trick of the misunderstood Lucas Perez in a 4-1 Champions League victory over Basel.
Reiss Nelson, Thomas Partey, and Mohamed Elneny are all permanently confined to the treatment room for Arsenal, and now Arteta has a new injury worry in Emile Smith Rowe, who appeared to limp off during the warm-up at Old Trafford.
Cedric Soares (knee) and the 22-year-old have been left out of the team, but several changes are still possible as Matt Turner, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Rob Holding, Eddie Nketiah, and Fabio Vieira try to break into the starting lineup.
After being selected for the senior Gunners Europa League squad, Marquinhos and Matt Smith may also make their club debuts. If Nketiah replaces Gabriel Jesus this week, he will attempt to score in his third straight Europa League start.
History: Both teams haven't met each other in history.
Even if the visitors will rotate, Arteta will still field a team with a wealth of young talent that is capable of leaving a lasting impression. The Gunners would have felt betrayed if they had left Old Trafford empty-handed.
Although they have performed better on the continent, Zurich have had a terrible start to their new home campaign, thus we cannot see anything other than a convincing away victory for Arteta's team this week.
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