Crvena Zvezda v Arsenal – 8/11
After their 2-1 defeat to Watford at the weekend, Arsenal have now kept just one clean sheet in five away matches this season, letting in nine goals.
The Gunners should concede again against Red Star, who have scored in 11 of their 12 home matches this season and have registered in both of their group matches so far.
Arsenal have scored in their two Europa League games, bagging three at home to Cologne and four away at BATE Borisov.
Arsene Wenger’s second string have actually been more prolific than his first team, and that trend should continue in Belgrade.
Perhaps if UEFA had used their name in English – Red Star Belgrade – the misstep would have been avoided. Of course, Red Star is one of the more recognisable names in the game.
Their name in Serbian is actually Crvena zvezda with a small z, but changes depending on the language – Stella Rossa in Italian, Etoile Rouge in French and Red Star in English. With the club reaching the group stage of the Europa League for the first time since the 2007-08 season (where they battled, unsuccessfully, against Gary Megson’s Bolton) along with great rivals Partizan, Serbian football is enjoying something of a renaissance, especially with the national team qualifying for a major tournament for the first time since 2010.
Arsenal have faced Red Star before in Europe’s second competition, a UEFA Cup third round tie back in the 1978-79 season. The Serbian side won 2-1 on aggregate, the crucial goal scored by Dusan Savic, whose son Vujadin has followed in his father’s footsteps and plays in the current Red Star side.
His father’s generation went all the way to the final that year, losing to Borussia Monchengladbach. It was the second time a Belgrade side had finished as runners-up in a European final with Partizan losing to Real Madrid in the 1966 European Cup.