Unai Emery has suggested that he is prepared to draft summer signing Bernd Leno into Arsenal’s starting XI for their inaugural Europa League Group E fixture against Ukrainian outfit Vorskla on Thursday evening.
Leno, 26, joined the Gunners from Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen to directly challenge Petr Cech for matchday supremacy but has since played second fiddle to the veteran stopper, although it appears that the German international could be gifted his first competitive start for the north-Londoners, as squad rotation will help ease mental and physical fatigue.
Speaking of a potential midweek appearance for Leno and other members of the Arsenal fold that are usually surplus for domestic duties, Emery expressed to the media (via Daily Star):
“Yes, normally we are going to change and use a lot of players for different competitions.
“But I am only thinking about the best performance for Thursday.
“Every competition for me I have respect for and want to do the best for.
“Normally I will use a different keeper for this competition, but I’m thinking about the best performance.”
Having reached the competition’s semi-final stage last term under Arsene Wenger’s command, Emery will be aiming to go one step further than the French tactician, who subsequently never laid claim to European silverware during his illustrious 22-year career in the club’s dugout.
The innovative Spanish boss won the continent’s secondary tournament with La Liga side Sevilla FC for three consecutive seasons between 2014 to 2016, a glittering feat which is a striking marker of his superior strategic prowess from the technical area, and Arsenal will certainly be hoping that his proven experience at this level will see them lift the Europa League trophy at the end of the current 2018-19 campaign.
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