Unai Emery is not expected to make many changes from Arsenal’s loss to Everton, although he could recall key players back into the starting lineup.
Arsenal are readying themselves to face the crunch Europa League quarter-final first leg clash against Napoli at the Emirates. The Gunners head into this game on the back of a disappointing defeat to Everton and Unai Emery will want his team to show the required character to bounce back.
Before the game, it was revealed that Granit Xhaka, and Laurent Koscielny are still significant doubts, as the players are yet to recover from their respective problems which have seen them miss the last two games. Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, both of whom started on the bench against Everton, could be in line for a return to the starting lineup.
Back to Xhaka and Koscielny, the manager could be hopeful of using them after the duo trained ahead of the game, although Emery would likely be cautious over using them so as to not risk a recurrence of injuries. Meanwhile, Sokratis is back in contention in Europe after serving his suspension, while Lucas Torreira is also expected to start after being out due to a domestic three-game suspension.
During his pre-match press conference, Emery was asked about team news. On Xhaka and Koscielny, he said, “We are going to assess tomorrow. Granit and Laurent are improving and they today with us, but I would rather wait for tomorrow morning to decide.”
Emery has a tough choice at hand when it comes to the selection of his goalkeeper. Petr Cech has mainly been preferred in Europa League games, and he could continue against Napoli ahead of Bernd Leno. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac are set to continue in their roles as wing-backs while depending on Koscielny’s situation, the manager could take a call on his center-back trio.
Sokratis and Nacho Monreal are expected to start, while it is only Shkodran Mustafi’s place that is in question. In the scenario that Koscienly is fit, Mustafi could find himself on the bench once more after an error stricken performance against Everton. But, as things stand, it is likely that the German would start instead.
Ramsey could come back into the starting lineup and replace Mohamed Elneny, while Torreira is a likely starter over Matteo Guendouzi in a two-man midfield. As far as attack is concerned, Emery was quizzed about Aubameyang and why the star striker had been on the bench for the last two games, to which he suggested that it was due to an illness.
“The first reason [he was benched] is because he had a small problem and he has taken antibiotics for his illness. That’s the main reason he didn’t start those two matches. For tomorrow, he’s getting better and can start or can play after.”
The comments by the Arsenal boss suggest that Aubameyang should be fit to face Napoli, and he will form the attacking trifecta, with Alexandre Lacazette leading the line. Finally, Mesut Ozil is expected to keep his place for the home clash, meaning the likes of Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are options from the bench.