The Arsenal squad has been updated ahead of their clash with Benfica on Thursday in the Europa League, adding seven players to the squad on the B-List.
Arsenal recently announced their Europa League main squad list, following the official deadline for submission a couple of weeks ago. However, they can still make changes to the B-list up until a few days before each matchday.
To briefly explain, the B-list is specifically reserved for under-21 players who have been at their club for two full years. You also have to have a professional contract with the club. Anyone on the B-list can feature in senior Europa League matches.
For example, Joel Lopez is eligible after his move from Barcelona in 2018. But Omar Rekik isn’t, given he only joined in January.
If you’re an u21 who hasn’t been at your club long enough, they can still play you as long as they have enough space to include you in the main squad list. That’s what Arsenal did with Gabriel Martinelli, who is ineligible for the B-list this season.
Arsenal have added three new u21s to the B-list this week, Brooke Norton-Cuffy, Alex Kirk, and Zach Awe. This is because they’ve all recently agreed professional deals with the Gunners, though we haven’t had official confirmation of Awe’s yet.
As well as those three, Tolaji Bola, Trae Coyle, Tom Smith, and Zak Swanson have all been added to the B-list after their loan spells ended.
Arsenal had to leave over-21 players Runar Alex Runarsson and Dejan Iliev out of the senior list, due to the restrictions on spaces.
Nikolaj Moller, George Lewis, Tim Akinola, Jonathan Dinzeyi, Omar Rekik, Catalin Cirjan, Salah-Eddine, Marcelo Flores, and Joel Ideho are all ineligible for the B-list, having been at Arsenal for less than two years.
Main Arsenal Squad List
Arsenal squad goalkeepers:
Bernd Leno, Mat Ryan, James Hillson
Arsenal squad defenders:
Hector Bellerin, Gabriel Magalhaes, Rob Holding, Cedric Soares, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, David Luiz
Arsenal squad midfielders:
Kieran Tierney, Dani Ceballos, Martin Odegaard, Willian, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka
Arsenal squad forwards:
Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Gabriel Martinelli
Arsenal squad B-List
Goalkeepers: Karl Hein, Arthur Okonkwo, Tom Smith
Defenders: Tolaji Bola, Joel Lopez, Zak Swanson, Alex Kirk, Zach Awe, Zane Monlouis, Brooke Norton-Cuffy
Midfielders: Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Ryan Alebiosu, Ben Cottrell, Miguel Azeez, Omari Hutchinson, Charlie Patino
Forwards: Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Folarin Balogun, Trae Coyle, Jordan McEneff
As a note, the positions given above are from the official UEFA website. Personally, I would swap Kieran Tierney to defenders, Jordan McEneff to midfielders, and Bukayo Saka to forwards, but what you see above is what UEFA provides.
Arteta to go strong: How Arsenal could line up vs Benfica
Arsenal face Benfica in Rome in the first leg of their Europa League Round-of-32 clash on Thursday, let’s take a look at our predicted lineup.
After getting back to winning ways with a positive performance against Leeds United on Sunday, Arsenal’s full focus turns to the Europa League.
Mikel Arteta’s side face Benfica in the ‘away’ leg on Thursday, so they really need to go for it and try and rack up the away goals while they have the chance.
Though Arsenal just played on Sunday and have Manchester City at the weekend, Arteta is still likely to go strong for this one.
Another early Europa League exit would put the season in jeopardy of failure on all fronts, the team needs the competition to keep some hope alive. Here’s our predicted Arsenal lineup for the clash.
Mat Ryan made a good first impression in his appearance against Aston Villa, but it’s got to be Bernd Leno in goal for this one.
Perhaps Arsenal will get a tie or an individual leg where they can afford to rotate at some point in the competition, but this isn’t the one. Benfica aren’t an easy opponent and there’s no room for risk-taking.
In case you weren’t already aware, Runar Alex Runarsson and Dejan Iliev have both been left out of the Europa League squad due to squad restrictions.
As a result, the third-choice goalkeeper to join the team on Thursday will be a youth player – probably Arthur Okonkwo.
Ideally, Kieran Tierney would come back in at left-back, but the latest update from Arteta doesn’t suggest that’s particularly likely. As a result, Cedric Soares will have to continue his run in the position.
Hector Bellerin will start at right-back, and it’s difficult to see any changes at centre-back either. Gabriel played well defensively against Leeds, and David Luiz proved himself an important member of the side in possession.
Rob Holding could come back in, but he doesn’t offer quite as much on the ball, so it really depends on what Arteta is going for. Given the team need goals in this leg, Luiz seems the better choice.
This is another area where the change the fans want to see – Thomas Partey coming back in – is unlikely to happen due to the player’s fitness problems.
The good news is that Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos performed very well together against Leeds. They can both keep their places for this one.
Ahead of those two, we’ll either see Martin Odegaard or Emile Smith Rowe. Both came off early against Leeds, so both should be ready to start this match.
Given they played well on Sunday, it would be great to see them getting another go together, meaning Odegaard at 10 and Smith Rowe on the left again.
You may be noticing a theme here, but this is another area of the pitch where we’re not expecting changes. Bukayo Saka has to keep his place, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s hat-trick may well get him the nod again over Alexandre Lacazette.
Nicolas Pepe is probably up there with Rob Holding as the most likely player in the squad to come in if Arteta does make any changes.
But the manager has just seen Saka, Smith Rowe and Odegaard get the best out of Aubameyang in a way we haven’t seen all season, so it’s hard to bet against the same three again.