Arsenal v Molde: Back cards with goals a possibility in likely home win

Arsenal host Molde in the Europa League on Thursday in a 8pm kick-off at the Emirates Stadium.

The two sides have both won their opening two games to sit level on six points in Group B, so any winner here will already have one foot in the knockout stages.

Arsenal are 3/10 favourites to win the match, with the draw 5/1 and a win for the Norwegian side 19/2.

Turkish referee Halil Umut Meler officiates this clash, and he has shown both sides one or more cards in his last 20 matches in all competitions. Over 0 Cards for each team will be my starting point for a bet365 Bet Builder, then, especially with both sides picking up four yellow cards each in their first two matches in the competition.

Despite likely resting several players for the Premier League match against Aston Villa at the weekend, I also expect Arsenal to have a little too much for their opponents, so will add Arsenal to win.

70% of Molde’s league matches this season have seen both teams score, meanwhile, with 10 of their 12 matches away from home seeing a goal at both ends. I’ll play safe by adding Over 1 Goal for Both Teams Combined* to bring the Bet Builder above evens at odds of 23/20:

(*Note: adding Over 1 Goals for Arsenal only takes it to 11/10, which is a little worse odds.)

I also want to get a much bigger odds Bet Builder on side tonight. Meler has shown two or more cards to each team in 14 of his last 20 matches, so with Arsenal and Molde both averaging two cards per match in the Europa League this season I’ll back this to land. (Molde are also averaging more than two cards per game in Norway, with Arsenal picking up 11 yellow cards in seven PL games so far.)

I’ll also back Arsenal to win & both teams to score given Molde’s attacking capabilities and their aforementioned BTTS stats. Molde have averaged 8.5 corners in their two European matches so far, meanwhile, and given I expect a fairly open game I’ll back them to earn Over 3 Corners to double the odds to a juicy 16/1.

Lastly, while it perhaps defies the card aspect of the bet a little, @_JackL_ tweeted an interesting stat this morning: 29 of Molde’s 30 matches this season have seen Under 31.5 Free Kicks awarded. Arsenal, meanwhile, bizarrely did not receive a single free-kick in their last European match against Dundalk. Meler averages 30 free kicks in Turkey, but this drops to 25 in Europe.

However, while backing Under 31.5 Free Kicks brings the bet to 22/1, backing Under 33.5 Free Kicks still increases it to 20/1, so we’ll play a little safer and do that as a final selection for a fun selection at a good price:

In terms of player bets, I’m keen on Nicolas Pepe to score anytime at 6/4 (Betfair), especially with him likely being on penalties with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian unlikely to feature unless required off the bench Sky Bet’s price boost of Pepe and Eddie Nketiah both getting on the scoresheet at 4/1 looks decent value given it landed against Dundalk and both players will be keen to impress.

Central midfielder Fredrick Aursnes has made five fouls in Molde’s two Europa League matches, meanwhile, picking up a booking in their win over Rapid Vienna. He generally picks up a booking every four or five matches in Norway, so with the ref and increase in quality of opposition, 10/3 (Betfair) on him picking one up at the Emirates looks reasonable value. The double with Pepe scoring pays a little over 10/1, while adding Over 30 Booking Points and an Arsenal win brings it to another 20/1 shot.

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