It’s Arsenal fun matchday time before we return to the drudge that is Arsenal in the league, so let’s take a look at how the sides line-up for tonight’s Europa League group game against Vitoria Guimaraes.
Who knew Thursdays would still be fun even though Tottenham no longer play? Yes, it’s time for the Europa League which, if Arsenal stay true to form, will mean refreshing, attacking, cohesive football, the type Emery seems allergic to for league matches.
Here’s how the sides line up…
Martinez; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney; Torreira, Willock; Maitland-Niles, Smith Rowe, Martinelli; Lacazette.
Subs: Leno, Ceballos, Pepe, Chambers, Guendoui, Kolasinac, Saka.
Silva, Venancio, Tapsoba, Victor Garcia, Edwards, Agu, Poha, Hanin, Almeida, Davidson, Duarte.
Subs: Douglas, Henrique, Bonatini, Rochinha, Al Musrati, Pereira, Pepe.
- The clubs are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition.
- Arsenal have a mixed record against Portuguese opposition but at home their record is W4 D1 L1, with no defeats and no goals conceded in the last five such matches. A 0-0 draw against Sporting CP in last season’s group stage ended a run of four straight wins in the UEFA Champions League, the first three against Porto.
- The Guimaraes club’s two previous visits to England in UEFA competition, both in the first round of the UEFA Cup, have brought two defeats and no goals – 0-5 against Aston Villa in 1983 and 0-2 against Portsmouth in 2008.
- London-born England youth international Marcus Edwards joined Vitória this summer from Arsenal’s local rivals
Tottenham Hotspur, where he was an academy graduate but made only one League Cup substitute appearance for the first team.
- Léo Bonatini is currently on loan to Vitória from Wolverhampton Wanderers, for whom he made six Premier League appearances last season. His current team-mate Ola John also briefly played on loan for Wolves in 2016/17 after spending the whole of the previous season at another English club, Reading.
- A finalist again with the Gunners in 2018/19, Unai Emery has been in charge of more UEFA Europa League games than any other coach, this being his 77th.
- The manager of Vitoria will present Unai Emery with a bottle of Portuguese wine, as is their tradition now, but not until the return leg.