Arsenal manager Unai Emery is likely to make a number of changes to the starting XI, when his team take on Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.
Arsenal will lock horns with Portuguese heavyweights Sporting Lisbon on matchday four of the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League at the Emirates Stadium.
Unai Emery’s men sit atop the standings in Group E, having picked up three victories in three matches in Europe, with the latest coming in the form of a 1-0 win against Sporting last month. Currently on a 14-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, the Gunners will be looking to extend the run and seal qualification to the next stage of the Europa League with a win on Thursday.
The manager is likely to make some tweaks to the lineup that took the field in the 1-1 draw against Liverpool in the Premier League this past weekend. Starting from the goalkeeping spot, seasoned campaigner Petr Cech is likely to come in to the team, in place of German custodian Bernd Leno.
Injuries continue to be a bit of a problem in defence for Arsenal with Nacho Monreal still not ready for a return, while the centre-back duo of Konstantinos Mavropanos and Laurent Koscienly are also set to miss out.
Speaking of the trio in his pre-match press conference Emery said,”At the moment, we are continuing with the injuries of Mavropanos who is also working with us but also not to start playing with us. Laurent Koscielny too, but he is getting better in each training with us.
“And then Nacho, we are with him in a very precautionary moment because we don’t want to repeat the same injury. At the moment he is starting to train but not with us [for all] and for tomorrow he isn’t in the group.”
Sead Kolasinac returned to action against Liverpool this past week, but is likely to be rested on Thursday. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is in line to replace him at left-back. Hector Bellerin is also expected to get a bit of a breather, with Stephan Lichtsteiner set to feature from the get-go at right-back.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos took part in full training with the team ahead of the match and is likely to return to action on Thursday. He will pair up with Shkodran Mustafi in the heart of the defence, with Rob Holding dropping out.
Mohamed Elneny remains sidelined with an injury, but Matteo Guendouzi is back in contention for selection, having been suspended for the Liverpool game. He will come into the starting XI in place of Granit Xhaka, who has earned a well-deserved rest. Lucas Torreira is also likely to be given the night off, with Aaron Ramsey set to feature from the kick-0ff.
Promising young talent Emile Smith Rowe should start in the No.10 role ahead of Mesut Ozil, while Alex Iwobi is in line for a start on the left flank, after his impressive cameo against Liverpool. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the only other player apart from Mustafi, who could keep his spot in the playing XI from the weekend game.
Both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are not likely to be involved from the start, with Danny Welbeck set to get the nod, having scored the only goal of the game against Sporting last time out.