Arsenal travel to Athens for the second leg of their Europa League tie on Thursday, let’s take a look at our predicted lineup for the clash.

ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 18: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal looks on ahead of the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match between SL Benfica and Arsenal FC at Stadio Olimpico on February 18, 2021 in Rome, Italy. SL Benfica face Arsenal FC at a neutral venue in Rome behind closed doors after Portugal imposed a ban on travellers arriving from the UK in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19 variants. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal looks on ahead of the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match between SL Benfica and Arsenal FC at Stadio Olimpico on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta made his priorities clear last week, picking his strongest side against Benfica before rotating a few players out against Manchester City at the weekend.

The manager knows Arsenal’s best hope of a positive end to the season is through success in the Europa League, so defeat in the second leg would be very damaging. As a result, we expect him to pick a strong side in Athens.

Although they didn’t get the win in Rome, arguably Arsenal outperformed their opponents, so you wouldn’t expect a huge number of changes from that much. Here’s our Arsenal predicted lineup.

Goalkeeper

ROME, ITALY: Bernd Leno of Arsenal looks for a pass during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match between SL Benfica and Arsenal FC at Stadio Olimpico on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Bernd Leno will start in goal, with Mat Ryan on the bench. Karl Hein looks the most likely to step up and join Ryan on the bench from the Arsenal academy after he made the squad last week.

Defence

ROME, ITALY: David Luiz and Gabriel Magalhaes of Arsenal look on during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match between SL Benfica and Arsenal FC at Stadio Olimpico on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Pablo Mari and Rob Holding started against Manchester City, but they’re likely to come out for Gabriel Magalhaes and David Luiz, who seem to be the first-choice pairing at the moment.

There are a few possible combinations at full-back. Kieran Tierney will probably start if he’s ready, but he’s only recently back from injury and played 90 minutes against Manchester City. Cedric Soares is the likely alternative if Arteta decides against Tierney.

Arguably, Cedric also has a shot at getting into the team at right-back. Hector Bellerin didn’t play particularly well against City and he’s started eight in a row. But we feel Arteta will select Tierney and Bellerin for this one if at all possible.

Midfield

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND: Dani Ceballos of Arsenal runs with the ball during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns on January 02, 2021. (Photo by Tim Keeton – Pool/Getty Images)

This is another area of the pitch where individual fitness is going to play a part in the selection. Thomas Partey seems to be edging closer, but we’re expecting him to be just short to start against Benfica.

Instead, Dani Ceballos will replace Mohamed Elneny to come back in alongside Granit Xhaka. Ahead of the two of them, Martin Odegaard will probably keep his place so Emile Smith Rowe can start on the left again.

Forwards

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reacts after missing a goal opportunity during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg football match between SL Benfica and Arsenal at the Olimpico stadium in Rome on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reacts after missing a goal opportunity during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg football match between SL Benfica and Arsenal at the Olimpico stadium in Rome on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has had a couple of off-games now, but we’re still expecting him to start.

Even though his accuracy was off in the first leg, Aubameyang still had all of Arsenal’s best chances. Arteta will surely pick the striker and expect him to hit the target this time.

Bukayo Saka has to start, ideally on the right, leaving the left side open for Emile Smith Rowe or Nicolas Pepe. Smith Rowe had a rest at the weekend, only playing a few minutes from the bench, so he’s probably the player to get the nod.

Arsenal Predicted Lineup vs Benfica

Arsenal predicted lineup vs Benfica created with Chosen11.com
Arsenal predicted lineup vs Benfica created with Chosen11.com