Arsenal begin their Europa League campaign against Vorskla Poltava at the Emirates on Thursday, and there could be first starts for three new summer signings.
Unai Emery had highlighted the importance of the Europa League in a recent press conference, suggesting that Arsenal may not rely on too many youths or fringe stars. But, the Gunners do have a lot of players who have been on the bench and are yet to get starts under Emery this season, and they are pencilled for the lineup against Vorskla.
Summer signings, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Lucas Torreira and Bernd Leno, could all start in an Arsenal side that may see the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Hector Bellerin and Granit Xhaka being rested or on the bench. Emery also suggested the need to retain many vital players from time to time for Europa League games, meaning Mesut Ozil might still keep his place.
Emery though, did confirm that Leno would start as the goalkeeper against Vorskla during his pre-game press conference. The manager said, “Yes, Bernd Leno is going to play tomorrow. In our planning with our goalkeeper, we have spoken with Javi Garcia, the goalkeeping coach. We need with Leno to give him a chance and the minutes of the game.”
So, as Emery confirmed, Leno would be making his first appearance for Arsenal this season, while Stephan Lichsteiner will be starting for the first time as the right-back, replacing Hector Bellerin. The Arsenal boss though, is set to retain other defenders in their respective positions, meaning Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal are set to continue playing in the starting lineup.
Lucas Torreira is another player widely expected to start, and he will likely partner Mohamed Elneny in the middle of the park. The Egyptian, like Torreira is yet to start a game for Arsenal this season. Those changes will ensure, Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka will either be rested or be placed on the bench.
Aaron Ramsey is also expected to be rested by Emery, while Ozil is set to be part of the side. The Arsenal manager could also make a late decision on the German as he might also want to try Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the no. 10 role. But, the Armenian should be on the bench against Vorskla.
Finally, there could be a start for Danny Welbeck on the right side of attack, and he will support Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Alexandre Lacazette, with the latter set to be Arsenal’s central striker.