Gabriel Martinelli and Alexandre Lacazette are in line to start for Arsenal in their UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg tie against Olympiacos.
Arsenal will be aiming to begin the knockout phase of their UEFA Europa League campaign with a victory when they lock horns with Greek giants Olympiacos at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus on Thursday night. And manager Mikel Arteta has a couple of fresh concerns heading into his first European game in charge.
Arsenal will be without the services of midfielder Lucas Torreira, who is out with an illness, while playmaker Mesut Ozil will also be unavailable due to personal reasons. Calum Chambers is a long-term injury absentee for the Gunners, while Kieran Tierney and Cedric Soares remain sidelined as well.
But, January signing Pablo Mari is fit again and in contention to start after playing for the reserves last weekend. Asked about the possibility of rotating his squad, the manager said in his press conference, “We’ve had a break of 15 days and we’ve played just one game. So tomorrow I’m going to put out a team that I think is the best to play.”
🗞 Here’s the latest from our medical team ahead of @olympiacosfc
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) February 19, 2020
“Then the rest of the games will take care of themselves. You cannot control that sometimes you are thinking about resting somebody and in training he gets a little issue or he gets sick. So tomorrow we are going to put out the team that we think is the best to play Olympiacos and the rest of the teams and games will follow.”
With Arteta hinting at the possibility of little rotation, Bernd Leno is likely to continue in goal for Arsenal ahead of Emiliano Martinez, who has been a regular in the Europa League.
There could be some changes in the backline though, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos likely to start against his former club alongside Shkodran Mustafi at the centre. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac could get a look-in in the full-back slots, with Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka likely to be given a breather.
Dani Ceballos had a brilliant game against Newcastle United last time out, and is expected to be retained in the middle of the park against Olympiacos. He should once again be partnered by former Arsenal skipper Granit Xhaka on Thursday night, while Joe Willock should come into the No. 10 spot in place of the absent Ozil.
Nicolas Pepe, too, had an excellent game against Newcastle last time out, but could be set to make way for Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian attacker ought to start on the right flank for Arsenal against Olympiacos, while captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should continue on the opposite wing.
Alexandre Lacazette should return to the starting XI as the lone striker after ending his recent goal-drought in the 4-0 win against Newcastle. Lacazette will come into the lineup at the expense of academy product Eddie Nketiah.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Mustafi, Kolasinac; Ceballos, Xhaka; Martinelli, Willock, Aubameyang; Lacazette