The Europa League returns to action on Thursday, with Arsenal hosting Slavia Prague in the first leg of their quarter-final clash at the Emirates Stadium.
Following another miserable Premier League outing which leaves them on the brink of the top 10, winning the Europa League may be the Gunners’ only guiding light towards European involvement next season.
Slavia Prague will not be an easy assignment though, especially due to the inconsistency shown by the Gunners this season. They have already dumped Leicester City out of the competition and will be gunning for another Premier League team.
Arsenal Team News
There have been a lot of updates from the Arsenal medical team.
David Luiz had a minor knee surgery and will be in rehabilitation for the foreseeable future. Martin Odegaard will be assessed ahead of the tie but we expect him to be passed fit.
Kieran Tierney will not have to undergo surgery after damaging his ligament but is out for four to six weeks.
Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Granit Xhaka are all available for selection thus giving Arteta a timely boost.
Predicted Arsenal Lineup vs Slavia Prague (4-2-3-1)
Bernd Leno will hope to keep a clean sheet in the first leg of the Europa League clash against Slavia Prague. He hasn’t been at his best recently but is the best option Arsenal have in that position. So he will start.
Mikel Arteta will have to make a number of key decisions regarding his backline.
In light of another soft display by Calum Chambers, we feel Arteta might be forced to bring Hector Bellerin back to the fold and hope his experience come to the fore against Slavia.
On the opposite flank, there will be the temptation to play Bukayo Saka but he has been their best player going forward, which is why Arteta might be forced to make an uncharacteristic choice and play Cedric Soares as the left-back in the Arsenal lineup.
David Luiz is a big loss and any two out of Pablo Mari, Rob Holding and Gabriel will be selected in central defence.
Given the defensive weaknesses, Granit Xhaka might be asked to start this game.
He might replace Elneny in the Arsenal lineup and will be paired alongside the more dynamic Thomas Partey. A lot will hinge on how the pair perform in the middle of the pitch.
In the no.10 role, it might be a toss-up between Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe. The decision is likely to come down to the fitness levels of both the players which is why we could see Odegaard start in the Arsenal lineup.
Bukayo Saka could replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left-flank while Nicolas Pepe could start on the right in the Arsenal lineup. Willian is another option.