Arsenal go into today’s game against Vitoria knowing that a win will all but seal qualification for the next stage of the competition and the teams are in ahead of the match.
We already knew there would be no Granit Xhaka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Mesut Ozil, so here’s how the sides line up:
Vitoria: Douglas, Frederico Venâncio, Rafa Soares,
Tapsoba, Lucas Evangelista, Victor García, Edwards, Agu,
Pêpê, Davidson, Bruno Duarte
Subs: Miguel Silva, Léo Bonatini, Rochinha, Al Musrati, André Pereira, Poha, Hanin
Arsenal: Martinez; Mustafi, Sokratis, Holding; Maitland-Niles, Ceballos, Willock, Tierney; Pepe, Saka; Martinelli.
Martinez; Mustafi, Sokratis, Holding; Maitland-Niles, Ceballos, Willock, Tierney; Pepe, Saka; Martinelli. #afc
— Simon Collings (@sr_collings) November 6, 2019
Subs: Leno, Bellerín, Lacazette, Torreira, Nelson, Guendouzi, Kolašinac
Fifth in the Portuguese Liga last season, Vitória qualified for their fifth European campaign this decade and first since 2017/18, when they finished fourth in their UEFA Europa League group.
Qualifying wins in the summer against Jeunesse Esch (1-0 a, 4-0 h), Ventspils (3-0 a, 6-0 h) and FCSB (0-0 a, 1-0 h) enabled the Guimaraes club to make a third appearance in the UEFA Europa League group stage. They have yet to make further progress in the competition, however, finishing third in their section on debut in 2013/14. Back in 2005/06
they also finished bottom of their UEFA Cup group.
Vitória won all three of their home qualifying games this summer, scoring 11 goals and conceding none, but a run of six European matches unbeaten in Guimaraes (W4 D2) ended on Matchday 2 against Eintracht Frankfurt.
UEFA Champions League ever-presents for 19 successive seasons from 1998/99 to 2016/17, Arsenal reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at the first attempt in 2017/18, losing to eventual winners Atlético, before going one step further and making it to last season’s final, where they were defeated 4-1 by London rivals Chelsea.
Fifth place in the 2018/19 Premier League secured a third successive UEFA Europa League group stage berth for the Gunners, who had won five European games in a row – one against Rennes, two apiece against Napoli and Valencia – before the loss in Baku.
The 1999/2000 UEFA Cup runners-up won all three away fixtures without conceding in last season’s group stage, having won two out of three in 2017/18, a 0-1 defeat at Köln the lone exception. Their overall away record in the UEFA Europa League is W10 D1 L4, with 28 goals scored and 12 conceded.
Links and trivia
London-born England youth international Marcus Edwards, who opened the scoring on Matchday 3, 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.
Arsenal defender David Luiz played in Portugal for Benfica from 2007 to 2011, winning the Liga title in 2009/10.
Arsenal are one of only two sides to have won all three UEFA Europa League group stage fixtures this season, along with Sevilla (Group A). Their tally of ten goals scored is also the highest in the competition.
An unexpected sixth-placed finish with Moreirense in the 2018/19 Portuguese Liga – in his only season with the club – earned Ivo Vieira a summer move to a Vitória SC side that finished on the same number of points but one place higher. A native of Madeira, he spent the whole of his playing career on the island with Nacional, which is where he
also started his coaching path. Indeed, he did not work in mainland Portugal until May 2016, when he was handed the coaching reins at second-tier Aves. He subsequently took charge of Académica Coimbra and Estoril.
After two years with Paris Saint-Germain that yielded seven domestic trophies, Unai Emery was appointed as Arsenal manager in May 2018, replacing the long-serving Arsène Wenger.
The Spaniard oversaw Sevilla’s historic hat-trick of successes in the UEFA Europa League from 2013/14 to 2015/16, having assumed control following a fouryear tenure at Valencia and a brief stint at Spartak Moskva. A finalist again with the Gunners in 2018/19, he has been in charge of more UEFA Europa League games than any other coach, this being his 78th.