Arsenal face Standard Liege in the second game of the Europa League group stage on Thursday, in the battle of the two top teams in Group F.
Whilst Arsenal were beating Frankfurt 3-0 in Germany, Liege struck through an own goal and an injury-time second to beat Vitoria at home.
In all honesty, it was a result they barely deserved. Liege conceded 17 shots, five on target, whereas they only took five shots in total against Vitoria despite the home advantage.
All the same, they came away with a 2-0 win, and any team that can do that after being dominated for most of the match should be taken seriously.
Let’s have a look at the Arsenal team news and predicted lineup for the match.
Emi Martinez is the clear choice, after his clean sheets against Frankfurt and Nottingham Forest in his only two games this season. Bernd Leno will be on the bench, given Matt Macey played with the u21s on Tuesday.
Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin should both be set to continue their injury recoveries with starts on this occasion. Sead Kolasinac needs a rest as does Calum Chambers, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ standing in the squad is a bit up in the air after his red card.
Rob Holding should get another game alongside Shkodran Mustafi, who has surprised everyone with a couple of solid performances since the transfer window closed.
After Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka played 90 minutes on Monday, and with Dani Ceballos seemingly the most likely to join them in the starting lineup on Sunday, the midfield three will probably be made up of Unai Emery’s other three options.
Lucas Torreira, Joe Willock and Mesut Özil can all feel justifiably aggrieved at Emery’s selection choices recently. Torreira is being played out of position, Willock hasn’t started a league game since August despite strong form, and Özil can hardly buy an appearance.
Thursday is a chance to give the latter two minutes and play Torreira where he should be playing already.
Ideally, Unai Emery isn’t going to want to play Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Nicolas Pepe. Both were involved on Monday, both will probably play on Sunday, and then they’ll likely both join their countries over the international break.
Unfortunately, the injury to Emile Smith Rowe throws a spanner in the works. The only options (assuming Emery plays one up front and two out wide) are to play one of the three that started on Monday or promote a new player from the academy.
We’re assuming he’s going to go with the former option, giving Bukayo Saka another match alongside Gabriel Martinelli up front and Reiss Nelson on the right. Still just 18 and without too many games behind him this season, Saka should have the energy for another.
Folarin Balogun was withdrawn from u21 duty on Tuesday for this match, so he’s also an option at centre-forward with Nelson and Martinelli on the wings. Saka-Martinelli-Nelson seems more likely given it’s a bit early in the group stage to be risking players making senior debuts.