William Hill Online Help Centre Close Detach
  • Change view:

William Hill Online Sports Betting - Live Football, Horse Racing, Greyhounds, Sports & Games

Stuart Dalgleish 15th Sep 2009 - 15:48

Gunners should put Manchester misery behind them in Liege

After consecutive defeats in Lancashire Arsenal's title challenge has taken a severe battering, but Arsene Wenger's side should be able to bounce back in their opening Champions League game against Standard Liege.

Last year Arsenal enjoyed a fine CL campaign - making it through to the semi-finals and scoring plenty of goals in the process before ultimately getting humiliated by Manchester United at the Emirates.

The Gunners were however, inconsistent on their travels; only winning once after qualifying for the CL proper, a 5-2 victory in Istanbul against Fenerbahce.

Their group looks to be a bit more straight forward this year with Olympiacos (who have ex Villa star Olof Mellberg amongst other international stars on their books) seemingly the biggest threat to top spot and a 2nd leg at home in the knockout stages.

One thing Arsenal cannot be is complacent though, while Standard Liege don't have any real household names they were more than a match for Liverpool in last year's CL qualifier and were unlucky to not make it through to the group stage; the Belgians just two minutes away from forcing a penalty shootout before Dirk Kuyt's late, late winner.

The back-to-back Belgian League champions are massive outsiders in the betting in this game though at odds of 11/2, the draw is a 14/5 chance whilst the visitors are 8/15 jollies. If you don't think that's great value then perhaps 9/2 on a 1-0 Gunners win might tempt you more.

Who are the players that can hurt Arsenal though?

Alex Witsel has certainly caused quite a stir in Belgium, he scored on his Belgian national team debut during the same season that he also got the title winning goal in a two-legged play-off; that season he was also awarded the Belgian Young Footballer of the Year, this season he's been in the news for the wrong reasons after breaking Anderlecht player Marcin Wasilewski's leg with a horror tackle that earned him an 8 match ban from domestic games. The winger should be involved in Europe though and if he's allowed room to operate from the wing he could look good value at 25/1 for the opening goal.

Standard have some good forward options with Dieumerci Mbokani (10/1 for the first goal) and Milan Jovanovic (9/1) regular net-busters in the Belgian League, Mbokani finished 2nd top of the goal charts last season and Jovanovic scored the goal that defeated Everton in last season's UEFA Cup.

One name that will be familiar to Arsenal fans, and is sure to get a 'warm welcome' is Ricardo Rocha, while the Portuguese international didn't exactly set the world alight during his time in the Premier League the fact that he wore the white shirt of Tottenham will be more than enough reason for the travelling contingent to let their feelings known when he gets a touch of the ball!

On the injury front for Arsenal; Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Denilson are all left behind and Sanchez Watt has been called up to the senior squad, Manuel Almunia is ill so Wenger needs to choose from Vito Mannone and Wojciech Szczesny to play between the sticks, for the sake of the commentators I hope it's Mannone!

Eduardo has (rather fortunately in my opinion) had his ban overturned so he is likely to lead the line, the Croatian is a 6/1 shot to grab the opening goal of the match.

The game will be just one of eight Champions League matches for you to bet in-running on with our fantastic In-Play service bringing you a whole host of live betting opportunities.


View AllPlay Games


View AllStuart Dalgleish