Arsenal will seek a second win from as many matches in the 2022-23 Europa League when they welcome Norway’s Bodo/Glimt to the Emirates Stadium for today’s Group A clash.
The Gunners opened their continental proceedings with a 2-1 win over FC Zurich, while their visitors have taken four points from their opening two games to sit atop the rankings.
As Arsenal’s encounter with FC Zurich on September 8 approached half time, news filtered through that Queen Elizabeth II had died, leading to the suspension of the Gunners’ clash with PSV Eindhoven as security prioritised Her Majesty’s state funeral.
The extra rest has done Mikel Arteta’s side very little harm as they continue their early spate of dominance in the Premier League, and whispers of a title charge are starting to grow that little bit louder following their 3-1 North London derby success over Tottenham Hotspur.
Thomas Partey, Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka all made the net ripple in front of a jubilant Emirates crowd to keep Arsenal one point clear at the top of the Premier League standings, but the unforgiving October period will be a true test of their credentials.
With no fewer than nine matches being played this month, Arsenal’s improving squad depth will come to the fore in domestic and continental action, and Arteta’s side welcome Bodo/Glimt to the Emirates having won each of their last seven competitive games at home.
Failure to keep a single clean sheet in that winning run does represent a minor blot on the North Londoners’ notebook, and they have also failed to win any of their last three Europa League games on home soil, but there is a different buzz around the Emirates this time.
With group favourites Arsenal seeing their matchday two battle rearranged, Bodo/Glimt took full advantage to rise to the top of the Group A rankings courtesy of their own 2-1 success over FC Zurich on September 15, having drawn 1-1 with PSV on the opening matchday.
After a quiet first half, Ole Selnaes’s own goal and a strike from Hugo Vetlesen put Bodo/Glimt in the ascendancy just before the hour mark, and the Norwegian champions were unfazed by Donis Avdijaj’s late consolation as they held on for all three points.
Kjetil Knutsen’s side had faltered in their Eliteserien title defence last month, but they rediscovered their golden touch at the weekend with a 4-1 success over Lillestrom in the top flight, which is exactly what the doctor ordered before a daunting trip to North London.
Only one of Bodo/Glimt’s last 13 away matches in Europe has ended in victory – although that was against British opposition in the form of Celtic – and an unexpected triumph over the Gunners would move Knusten’s men four points clear of the Premier League leaders at the top of Group A.
Today’s game will mark the inaugural meeting between Arsenal and Bodo/Glimt in any competition, and the hosts remain unbeaten after six clashes with Norwegian opposition, but a rejigged side will still need to have their wits about them here.
Arsenal duo Mohamed Elneny and Emile Smith Rowe both remain out for the long-term due to hamstring and groin injuries respectively, while Cedric Soares has sustained a fresh knock and may not be ready to return just yet either.
With Liverpool to come at the weekend, expect Arteta to make a plethora of changes for today’s game, starting with Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko dropping out of the side given their recent fitness woes. – SportsMole
UEFA Europa League
Omonia v Man United
Arsenal v Bodo/Glimt
Roma v Real Betis
FC Zurich v PSV
SK Sturm Graz v Lazio
Sheriff v Real Sociedad
Crvena zvezda v Ferencvaros
Omonia v Man United
Monaco v Trabzonspor
HJK v Ludogorets
Malmo v Union Berlin
Midtjyland v Feyenoord
Rennes v Dynamo Kyiv
Olympiacos v Qarabag FK
Braga v Union Saint-Gilloise
Fenerbahce v AEK Larnaca
SC Freiburg v Nantes