Arsenal face Frankfurt in the first game of the Europa League group stage on Thursday, and they’re likely to make a few changes given the busy schedule this month.

Arsenal’s Spanish coach Unai Emery gestures during the UEFA Europa League group E football match between Qarabag FK and Arsenal FC in Baku on October 4, 2018. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP / Getty Images)

After playing on Sunday against Watford, Arsenal travel to Frankfurt for the match on Thursday, then back to London for games against Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest on Sunday and Tuesday.

There’s no way the full first team can play all four of those matches in 10 days, so there’s going to have to be some prioritisation. The Frankfurt game is at 17:55 BST on BT Sport in the UK, and you can visit LiveSoccerTV for the full TV listings by country.

With all that in mind, let’s have a look at the team news and predicted Arsenal lineup for the clash.

Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1)

Emery’s attempt at playing Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as a two up front hasn’t really worked on either occasion he’s tried it, so he should revert to a more tried and tested formation for this one.

Goalkeeper

Finally, it looks like Emi Martinez is going to get his chance. The Argentine goalkeeper has waited patiently through the first month of the season, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t get an opportunity to come in for Bernd Leno in this competition.

Defence

Near wholesale changes are expected at the back, with only Sead Kolasinac likely to keep his place from the weekend. Even then, that’s only due to the lack of alternatives, with Tolaji Bola and Zech Medley having only just returned from injury to play 45 minutes on Saturday.

Rob Holding has played a couple of full 90s for the u23s, so he’s finally ready to return with the first team, and Calum Chambers should join him. Chambers deserves to come back into the team anyway, but this is a good chance to give David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos a break.

Shkodran Mustafi is back, and he’ll probably have to fill in at right-back. With Hector Bellerin still not ready yet, Emery is going to need to be creative to give Ainsley Maitland-Niles a rest, and he may as well use Mustafi for something.

Midfield

Joe Willock picked up a knock ahead of the Spurs game and was withdrawn from England u21 duty as a precaution, but it was nothing serious, as he showed with a cameo appearance against Watford. The midfielder should start this one.

Alongside him, Arsenal really need one of Granit Xhaka or Matteo Guendouzi to keep their place and distribute from deep. Guendouzi is the less risky choice after Xhaka’s recent knock on international duty.

Mesut Özil should continue his first-team comeback with another start, having only played 70 minutes on Sunday. The German will be returning to his home country and eager to impress.

Dani Ceballos, Xhaka and Torreira will settle for spots on the bench, as they’re the likely starting trio against Aston Villa at the weekend.

Forwards

Aubameyang and Pepe are two of the players we expect to keep their places after the weekend.

Alexandre Lacazette’s injury opens up an opportunity for a youth striker like Tyreece John-Jules or Folarin Balogun to get a game, but they’d be better off getting their debuts in the League Cup game than a European away night against the Europa League semi-finalists.

Similarly, it seems like a big risk to start two young wide players at once after limited minutes for any of them in the first few weeks of the season. Pepe will take up the role on the right, with Reiss Nelson getting another chance on the left.

Depending on how things go, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and maybe even Emile Smith Rowe should be available for minutes from the bench.

Full lineup

Buildlineup.com
Buildlineup.com