Holding and Pepe start, Predicted Arsenal lineup (4-2-3-1) to face Eintracht Frankfurt
Arsenal are scheduled to face Eintracht Frankfurt on the road in their opening game of the Europa League campaign on Thursday. The Gunners are currently on a three-match winless streak following a disappointing second half performance at Watford where they squandered a 2-0 advantage to settle for a share of the spoils.
Damian Martinez has not earned a single minute of playing time this season with Bernd Leno preferred for the goalkeeper duties in the league. It won’t come as a surprise, if the Argentine is offered with a start between the sticks on Thursday.
In the defence, manager Unai Emery may consider an overhaul from the previous league game barring Sead Kolasinac, who does not have a direct competitor for the left-back spot with Kieran Tierney on the sidelines.
Calum Chambers and Rob Holding are likely candidates to replace David Luiz and Sokratis at the heart of the backline after the duo were responsible for the defensive mishap during the second half at Vicarage Road. Holding has played a couple of 90 minute games with the development squad following his return from a serious knee injury and he should be up for the challenge.
Elsewhere, Shkodran Mustafi could earn a start on the right side of the backline ahead of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who may require a breather after a tough outing at Watford, where he was constantly troubled by the movement of Gerard Deulofeu.
In the midfield, Matteo Guendouzi seems likely to start his sixth game on the trot for the Gunners following his early substitution over the weekend. The Frenchman looked far from his best at Vicarage Road and will be eager to prove himself especially with his distribution.
Alongside the Frenchman, we are anticipating a start for Joe Willock, who showed the eagerness to drive forward in the search for the winning goal against Watford. The young Englishman should be a regular presence in this season’s Europa League campaign.
In this case, Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Dani Ceballos may remain on the bench, and there is every chance that they will be the preferred midfield combination for the weekend’s league encounter against Aston Villa at the Emirates.
In the attack, we are anticipating Mesut Ozil to retain his number 10 spot after impressing with his distribution during his first appearance of the season last weekend. The German could be flanked by Reiss Nelson and Nicolas Pepe on the left and right wing respectively and both of those players surely need a goal to boost their confidence.
Nelson has hardly earned gametime since the opening two games of the season and the Europa League offers him with the platform to excel and make the push for more playing time in the league. Pepe, meanwhile, has impressed with his dribbling, link-up play and movement, but he has lacked the final end-product to make the difference.
Upfront, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will definitely start after his brace at Watford. The Gabon international has been sublime this season with an average of one goal per game, but he cut a frustrated figure last weekend where his performance was overshadowed by the team’s poor defensive display.
Predicted XI: Damian Martinez, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac, Matteo Guendouzi, Joe Willock, Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil, Reiss Nelson, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Ditch Xhaka, Thanks!!