Arsenal kick off their Europa League campaign in Austria, here is our Arsenal predicted lineup vs Rapid Vienna for our first group stage match.
Looking at Arsenal’s group, this is arguably the toughest fixture of the lot. Mikel Arteta’s side travel away to the Austrian Bundesliga’s second-place team, who have scored 10 goals and conceded just three in their four league games so far.
They’ve also won their two cup matches 5-0 and 5-1, though they’ll be disappointed to have crashed out of UEFA Champions League qualifying to Gent after beating NK Lokomotiva in the previous round. Hence their inclusion in the Europa League instead.
I’d still expect Arteta to rotate heavily, coming off the back of a match against Manchester City with Leicester City at the weekend. But perhaps he’ll also include a couple of starters to balance things out.
Arsenal Predicted Lineup vs Rapid Vienna
Arsenal Predicted Lineup vs Rapid Vienna- Goalkeeper
This is one area where I think Arteta will stick with his first-choice option. The Europa League is an opportunity to give Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson his debut, but only once the team are a bit more secure in their chances of progression.
For now, it’s too much of a risk to be throwing Rúnarsson in, so I’m predicting Bernd Leno to start.
Arsenal Predicted Lineup vs Rapid Vienna – Centre-Backs
Arsenal have a little bit of a problem at centre-back. Of the players on the books, William Saliba and Sokratis Papastathopoulos are not in the Europa League squad. Rob Holding picked up an injury on the weekend and may miss this one too.
Pablo Mari isn’t back to full fitness yet, and we’ll have to wait for further updates on Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers. For now, we’ll assume neither are available quite yet. Though they’re clearly very close now.
That leaves David Luiz and Gabriel. Plus Kieran Tierney or Sead Kolasinac to play the left-centre-back/left-back role in Arteta’s hybrid 3-4-3/4-3-3 system.
So it looks like another start for the pair that got a game against City, and my guess would be Kolasinac for the third spot, to give at least one of the three (Tierney) a rest.
Arsenal Predicted Lineup vs Rapid Vienna – Midfield and Wing-Backs
Arteta clearly didn’t want to throw Partey in at the deep end against Manchester City, so he might give the midfielder a chance to settle in on Thursday instead. I’d bet on Mohamed Elneny for Partey’s partner, after he made the weekend squad but didn’t play.
Emile Smith Rowe is an option in midfield, or perhaps further forward, but he only played 45 minutes for the u23s this weekend following his recent injury. So he may not quite be ready for first-team starts just yet. Joe Willock is another possibility.
Then Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Cedric Soares should come in for Bukayo Saka and Hector Bellerin on the left and right respectively. It’s hard to see too many alternatives to that, assuming Arteta wants to rest his starters.
Arsenal Predicted Lineup vs Rapid Vienna – Forwards
Reiss Nelson started and played well against the Manchester United u23s at the weekend, scoring Arsenal’s opening goal. That should be a nice warm-up game to have him ready for this Europa League match after his injury.
Up front, it could be Eddie Nketiah or Alexandre Lacazette. It’s guesswork, but I think Lacazette is Arteta’s preferred choice right now, as he was the first off the bench on Saturday. So I’d assume he’ll save Lacazette for Leicester and start Nketiah here.
The third spot will likely go to Smith Rowe or Gabriel Martinelli when they’re both fit again, but they aren’t yet. Willian should start instead, as Arteta doesn’t have many alternatives, and Nicolas Pepe played more of the City match.