Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette are likely to return to the teamsheet as Arsenal lock horns with Benfica in the Europa League on Thursday.
Arsenal take on SL Benfica on Thursday at the Stadio Olimpico, hoping to improve on their last season’s performance where they were knocked out of Olympiacos.
Mikel Arteta, though, will be faced with a dilemma in regards to his team selection, as his side are also due to face Manchester City on Sunday. In addition, the club continues to miss out on the services of Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney.
Devoid of midfield options, Arteta may have no choice but to persist with the midfield duo of Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka due to the absence of Partey while Cedric Soares should once again slot in for the injured Tierney.
There could be notable changes elsewhere though, especially in attack, where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may have to settle for a place on the bench as he makes way for Alexandre Lacazette. In addition, Nicolas Pepe is tipped to return to the team after being left out on the weekend.
Arteta has hailed the Ivorian’s recent development during the pre-match press conference, stating, “I’ve seen a lot of things, in his mentality, the way he approaches every training session, in his understanding of the game as well. It’s true that he has patches where he’s played more than at other times. He has had the opportunity over the last couple of months that probably every player has been seeking to have but I think overall there is a lot of progress with Nico.”
Pepe could thus be a part of Arsenal’s creative trifecta alongside Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, although Willian also has a “good chance” because he is “part of the squad”, as Arteta pointed out prior to the game.
Meanwhile, in the defensive unit, the Spaniard may want to give David Luiz a breather, which should pave the way for Rob Holding to return to the starting lineup.
Gabriel Magalhaes may also get a hooked off, in favour of Pablo Mari, who is yet to feature since returning to full fitness. It will be interesting to see how these two defenders fare alongside each other, against a sharp Benfica attack this midweek.
Predicted Arsenal Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Cedric; Ceballos, Xhaka; Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe; Lacazette