AUGUST: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

IT’S been a terrible week for Arsenal and they’ll be hoping it gets better with the start of their Champions League campaign on Tuesday night.

The Gunners opened their season with an insipid display in a 0-0 draw at Newcastle on Saturday then lost Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona with Samir Nasri set to follow through the exit door.

To make matters worse for Wenger he goes into a testing Champions League qualifier against Udinese without star striker Robin van Persie who is suspended.

So it will be a fairly makeshift Gunners side that takes to the field at the Emirates and a home win is difficult to take at 1-2 with the likes of Ladbrokes and William Hill.

Arsenal are 3-10 with Paddy Power to qualify while the Italians are 11-4 at Skybet to go through and 7-1 at Coral to win on the night.

I’ve a feeling Wenger’s men will squeeze through because Udinese have also lost players, however, it may not be straightforward.

The Italians were seen as an attacking force last season so both teams to score at the Emirates at 10-11 with Betfred and Stan James could be the call and over 2.5 goals has a chance at 4-5 with Chandler.

With van Persie out picking a first scorer is difficult but there is value in Thomas Rosicky at 16-1 with Coral while set-piece danger Thomas Vermaelen is 20-1 (various).

New boy Gervinho, Arsenal’s £11million capture from Lille, is 5-1 favourite with Ladbrokes.

There are four other Champions League qualifiers on Tuesday and most likely winners are Copenhagen against Czechs Viktoria Plzen.

The Danes, who have a decent European pedigree, are 8-11 with Ladbrokes against the Euro rookies.

Lyon are hot favourites at 8-11 with Blue Square at home to Rubin Kazan but the Russians will give them a massive examination.

Rubin were superb in seeing off Dynamo Kiev in the last round and are in the middle of their season while Lyon still look ring rusty and were held 1-1 at home to promoted Ajaccio in the league at the weekend.

Taking 9-2 from William Hill, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes isn’t the daftest bet while the French to be knocked out pays 13-8 with Paddy Power.

I’m sure Benfica will qualify against Twente but a scoring first-leg draw in Holland is my call. Both teams to score is 10-11 with William Hill.

Recommendations

Rubin Kazan to qualify

(13-8, Paddy Power)

Over 2.5 goals Arsenal v Udinese

(4-5, Chandler)

Both teams to score Twente v Benfica

(10-11, William Hill)

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