Arsenal face Vitoria in the fourth match of their Europa League group stage campaign, with the possibility to qualify for the knockout stages on the cards.
Arsenal travel to Vitoria on nine points, having won all three opening games of their European campaign.
The Gunners are six points clear of Standard Liege in third, meaning a win and any result other than a Liege win over Frankfurt would mean they can’t be caught by two teams and eliminated.
Unai Emery’s side won’t be able to wrap up top spot in the group this time, even if they win and Liege win, leaving Emery’s side six points clear of both Frankfurt and Liege.
If that does happen though, it will effectively guarantee Arsenal finishing top, if not mathematically. The only way for the Gunners not to finish in first after those two results would be a 3-0 defeat to Frankfurt or a 4-0 defeat to Standard Liege, plus a goal difference swing.
The point being that Arsenal will make the rest of the group stage much more straightforward with a win over Vitoria.
Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup for the match.
After a disappointing performance against Liverpool, Emi Martinez will have the chance to redeem himself in Portugal. We expect the Argentine goalkeeper to continue his run in the Europa League/cup games, with Bernd Leno on the bench.
Arsenal are likely to play the same back-four that started against Liverpool as well. Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding continue to get up to full speed away from the Premier League after their injuries, whilst Shkodran Mustafi is only trusted in the other competitions.
Sead Kolasinac is likely to start over Kieran Tierney, as Tierney seems to have secured himself the Premier League left-back spot now.
David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Calum Chambers will all be rested as a result.
After a couple of games out, we’re predicting the return of Granit Xhaka on Thursday. Away from the Emirates Stadium, away from the Premier League and away from England, this seems the lowest-risk way to reintroduce him to the side.
Xhaka should be joined in a midfield three by youngsters Joe Willock and Emile Smith Rowe.
After Dani Ceballos and Mesut Özil both played 90 minutes over the weekend, Smith Rowe is the best choice for the attacking midfield position. Meanwhile, Willock can provide an opportunity for Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira to rest.
Gabriel Martinelli should start up front, in his fantastic recent form. Bukayo Saka is likely to start on the left in the continued absence of Reiss Nelson, who played his first minutes after injury for the u23s last Friday.
It’s possible Nicolas Pepe starts on the right, but if Unai Emery was paying any attention to the Wolves game he should be well aware he needs the winger against Leicester City at the weekend.
As a result, Ainsley Maitland-Niles should continue his run in the Europa League/cup team.