Arsenal begin their Europa League knockout phase with a visit to BATE Borisov where Unai Emery will field a somewhat changed starting lineup.
Arsenal make their trip to Belarus to face BATE Borisov for the first leg of their Europa League round of 32 clash. The Gunners are expected to be in optimistic mood ahead of this game after beating their opponents twice during last season’s competition, scoring 10 goals in the process. Arsenal are overwhelming favourites to make it into the next round of the tournament.
Unai Emery is expected to make some changes to the side that won away at Huddersfield, although the manager will be more than pleased with the returns of several key stars. The likes of Sokratis, Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Granit Xhaka, who were all absent from the side last weekend, were seen back in training.
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However, of them, only Aubameyang and Xhaka have made the trip to Belarus, while Mesut Ozil is yet again left out of the side, with the manager deeming him not completely ready for action. Aaron Ramsey is also absent, as he is still nursing a knee problem; however, Arsenal are expected to name a strong starting lineup as they don’t have a game to play over the weekend.
During his press conference, Emery was asked of the possibility of new signing Denis Suarez playing from the start. The Spaniard, however, did not provide any kind of confirmation for Suarez starting, although he did hint at the possibility.
“First I am thinking for the best performance tomorrow with the best players. His adaptation is good, but it needs time. He is okay to start being involved in the first XI but also to be on the bench so that later in the match he can play. This adaptation is important for us and then also he can be playing,” the Arsenal manager said.
Bernd Leno could be rested for this clash, and Petr Cech is likely to start in goal. Stephan Lichesteiner is included in the side, although Emery could stick with Ainsley Maitland-Niles at right wing-back and give him more playing time in that position. At left-wing back, Emery could continue with Sead Kolasinac.
Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal could start the game in a three-man central defence. In midfield, Emery has a few options, in Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, Xhaka, and Mohamed Elneny. Since Torreira and Guendouzi have played a lot of games lately, there could be a chance one of them could be rested, possibly the Uruguayan, with Elneny taking his place.
Emery could be tempted to use Denis Suarez from the start as part of his three-pronged attack. The new signing could partner Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has only returned from injury. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is back in the squad after recovering from an illness, is likely to replace Alexandre Lacazette up front.