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Jon Riley 7th Dec 2010 - 14:26

Arsene's artisans to make light work of Partizan

Arsenal v Partizan Belgrade - 19:45 Live on ITV 1

After taking nine points from their opening three Champions League group games most Arseanl fans could have been forgiven for thinking that their progress through to the knockout stages was a mere formality.

Well after successive away defeats to Shakhtar and Braga their fate in Group H is still undecided. A Shakhtar victory at the Donbass Arena in Ukraine would be enough for the Gunners to qualify but only in second place while if Braga were to defeat Shakhtar and Arsenal also to win, then Arsene Wenger's men would top the group.

The unthinkable scenario for all Arsenal's fans would be a defeat at home to Partizan Belgrade compounded with a Braga win in Donetsk. This possible yet unlikely scenario would see the North Londoners eliminated from the Champions League completely.

William Hill seem confident that Arsenal will have a comfortable evening at the Emirates against Partizan, installing them as massive 1/10 favourites. This could be down to Arsenal's excellent home record in Europe but also due to the Serbians abysmal away record in the competition. Partizan have lost all five Champions League away matches and scored only one goal. Therefore, it is easy to see why they are priced at 22/1 to take three points away from the capital.

The first meeting between the sides in Belgrade ended up as a 3-1 win for the visiting Gunners. The main talking point of that game was the three penalties awarded during the ninety minutes. Both Andrei Arshavin of Arsenal and Cleo of Partizan were unable to convert spot kicks in the second half. For a repeat of the 3-1 scoreline you can get odds of 10/1 while we have 16/5 for a penalty to be awarded and scored and 11/1 for a penalty to be awarded and missed.

The Match Winner offer for this clash surrounds the goal scoring exploits of the Arsenal team this season. Nasri, Chamakh, Walcott, Arshavin and Fabregas have all been amongst the goals this campaign so we're offering odds of 4/1 that any player in the famous colours of Arsenal score a hat-trick.

When looking at the first scorer markets it is hard to look beyond Samir Nasri, possibly the most in-form player in the Premier League at present. The French star has blossomed this season for the Gunners and is displaying for all to see the brilliant skill that convinced Arsene Wenger to bring him to the club. With two goals at the weekend against Fulham and eight in total in the league this season, it could be well worth backing Nasri to open the scoring at 9/2 or 6/5 to score at anytime.

Marouane Chamakh (5/2 First Scorer, 4/7 Anytime) and Andrei Arshavin (7/2 First Scorer, 10/11 Anytime) have both been amongst the goals and could take advantage of a fragile Belgrade defence just as they did at Aston Villa recently where both players found the back of the net.

Partizan's main goal threat will come from their Brazilian striker Cleo. The forward has an impressive nine goals in Europe this season firing in the goals to push side through the qualifying rounds and into the group stages. His goal tally could have been increased against Arsenal in Belgrade but had a second half penalty saved by Lukas Fabianski. Cleo is priced at 14/1 to open the scoring and 11/2 to score anytime.

Despite Monday's trip to Old Trafford lurking in the back of his mind, I can only see Arsene Wenger sending out his strongest team. In Tuesday's press conference the Arsenal manager confirmed that the squad for the game would be the same as the one against Fulham at the weekend.

That's why I can only see a home win in this one. I feel that the Gunners superiority will tell regardless of the pressure that is on them and that they will come through the game comfortably. I would recommend the handicap market for this one with Arsenal-1 and Arsenal -2 priced at 1/3 and 10/11 respectively.



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