Arsenal begin their Europa League campaign at home to FC Vorskla on Thursday, and will hope to get off to a winning start under three-time winner of the competition Unai Emery.
Emery picked up the trophy three times in three seasons with Sevilla, from 2013/14 to 2015/16. After that he spent a couple of seasons in the Champions League with PSG, but now he has the chance to win the Europa League for a fourth time, which would make him the outright most successful manager in the history of the competition.
First up is a team not many Arsenal fans will have heard of before the draw, Vorskla, and Emery will likely rotate his team as a result. With four games in the next 10 days, he doesn’t have much choice.
Let’s have a look at our predictions to start the match:
1Goalkeeper and Defence
Based on Unai Emery’s responses in press conferences, it looks like Bernd Leno might finally get a competitive debut for Arsenal against Vorskla. He’s had to bide his time, with Petr Cech starting in goal for the Gunners’ Premier League fixtures so far. Now Leno has the opportunity to prove himself at last, hopefully he can take it.
In defence, Konstantinos Mavropanos appears to be unavailable with injury, which limits Emery’s options somewhat. Combined with injuries to Arsenal’s backup options at left-back, we could see a bit of a makeshift back-line on the night.
Rob Holding should start, with Stephan Lichtsteiner at full-back. If Emery wants to rest Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin, then Lichtsteiner may have to play on the left with Julio Pleguezuelo filling in on the right.
Dominic Thompson took part in first-team training on Wednesday, but he hasn’t even made his debut for the u23s yet. It would be a massive call to start him so soon.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos or Shkodran Mustafi will have to fill the fourth spot. Based on Mustafi’s injury record last year, I doubt he’ll be risked, so Sokratis should start.