Arsenal have a vital Europa League quarter-final second leg coming up on Thursday, so let’s look at our predicted lineup to face Slavia Prague.
After a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Arsenal need to score at least one goal in Prague to have any chance of qualifying for the Europa League semi-finals. The good news is that if they do score one goal, every goal after that gives them the away goals advantage.
As a result, the aim of the second leg should be simply to score as many as possible, even at the risk of conceding. 2-2 sends Arsenal through, 0-0 sends them out.
Arsenal had a positive warm-up game with a 3-0 win over Sheffield United at the weekend, but Slavia Prague should prove a much tougher nut to crack defensively. Here’s our predicted Arsenal lineup to try and break them down.
We’re expecting the same back four that started the first leg to return for this one. Rob Holding is pretty much nailed on to start, and Hector Bellerin will probably be preferred to Calum Chambers for what he offers going forwards.
Granit Xhaka actually made a good case for his inclusion at left-back with his performance against Sheffield United, but we feel Mikel Arteta will opt for using the Swiss international in midfield, leaving Cedric Soares at left-back instead.
As mentioned, we’re predicting Xhaka to start in midfield, almost certainly alongside Thomas Partey.
It worked well against Sheffield United and would allow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe – who did so well in the closing minutes last Thursday – to start as well. Saka had his own fitness issue on Sunday, but it didn’t appear to be anything serious.
As mentioned above, it seems pretty likely Aubameyang and Pepe will both make the starting lineup, but the real question is over the third position on the left.
If Smith Rowe is fit, he could make his return on that side. Willian is available, but he really didn’t impress in last Thursday’s first leg. Gabriel Martinelli did catch the eye at the weekend, and he claims he’s fit for this Thursday.
We’re going to predict a start for Martinelli because Arsenal need another goal threat in the team.
Predicted Starting Lineup vs Slavia Prague
Read on for our predicted lineup for the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final, posted before last Thursday’s match.
Arsenal face Slavia Prague at home in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final, let’s take a look at our predicted lineup for the clash.
Arsenal have to bounce back quickly from a terrible Premier League performance against Liverpool in their Europa League clash on Thursday. Once again, their season is riding on winning the competition, so they need a big performance.
Mikel Arteta will go as strong as he can for the match, but a lot is going to depend on which players are fit and available to play. Kieran Tierney, David Luiz, Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka, and Emile Smith Rowe all have health or fitness problems right now.
Here’s our Arsenal predicted lineup for the Slavia Prague first leg.
Bernd Leno will start, as Arteta doesn’t really have any room for experimentation in this game. If he wants to give Mat Ryan another match before the end of the season, Sunday’s Sheffield United clash would make more sense.
With David Luiz and Kieran Tierney both likely to miss out, Gabriel Magalhaes alongside Rob Holding is the most probable centre-back pairing with Cedric Soares at left-back. Pablo Mari could come in for Gabriel, but Gabriel seems to be first-choice at the moment.
At right-back, Calum Chambers and Hector Bellerin are both available. Though Chambers didn’t make any major defensive errors against Liverpool, he also offered nothing going forward, and Arteta may be tempted to rotate as a result.
Xhaka only missed out on Liverpool through illness, so if it’s nothing too serious, he should be back in contention in the next few days. Dani Ceballos has really struggled lately, so it would be a blow to have to rely on him in this match.
Whether you consider Emile Smith Rowe part of the midfield or the forwards at the moment, he still isn’t back in training after his injury on international duty, so we’re assuming he’ll miss this one.
Given Bukayo Saka returned to training a day before the Liverpool game, we’re staying optimistic that means he’ll be available for Thursday. If he is, he has to start.
As for the position on the left, there are a few options. Nicolas Pepe could shift across, Gabriel Martinelli could get a rare start, or Reiss Nelson a highly improbable one, but we’re predicting Willian to make the lineup.
Willian had four assists in five games before his calf injury, including in both of his last two Europa League matches. But mostly, Arteta will probably opt for him for his experience in European knockout fixtures.
After all, Willian has experience of this exact fixture, facing Slavia Prague in the Europa League quarter-final with Chelsea in 2019. He assisted their late first-leg winner on that occasion.