Arsenal out to maintain winning run on long Europa League trip

Arsenal are in pursuit of their eighth consecutive victory. (AFP pic)

BAKU: Unai Emery’s Arsenal are looking to keep up their winning run when they make their longest-ever journey for a competitive game to face Qarabağ in Azerbaijan in the Europa League on Thursday.

The Gunners have recovered from losing the opening two games under their new Spanish coach, and Saturday’s 2-0 win over Watford in the Premier League was their seventh victory on the bounce.

An eighth successive win in all competitions would represent Arsenal’s best run since the spring of 2015, and it would leave them in a strong position to qualify from Group E after they began their European campaign by beating Vorskla of Ukraine 4-2.

Emery is likely to rest leading players for the 4,000-kilometre trip to Baku Olympic Stadium, which will host the final next May.

Premier League rivals Chelsea host Hungarian champions Vidi, who dropped into this competition after losing to AEK Athens in the Champions League playoffs.

Maurizio Sarri’s team won their Group L opener, beating PAOK in Greece with a solitary Willian goal.

Scottish champions Celtic have had a poor start to the season, although Brendan Rodgers’ team did beat Rosenborg 1-0 in their Europa League group-stage opener.

The Hoops are traditionally poor on their travels in Europe – excluding qualifying rounds they have won just twice away from home this decade.

That means they are likely to find life tough against Austrian champions Salzburg, who reached the semifinals last season.

Rangers, meanwhile, face Austrian opposition too.

Steven Gerrard’s side, who held Villarreal away from home two weeks ago, host Rapid Vienna, with the visitors to Ibrox having just appointed a new coach.

Dietmar Kühbauer, a former Rapid player, replaces Goran Djuricin, who was fired over the weekend.

Other fixtures to look out for include AC Milan’s home meeting with Olympiakos and former winners Sevilla’s trip to Russia to face Krasnodar.