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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.