Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard could start together as Arsenal face SL Benfica at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Greece.
Arsenal are aiming to advance through to the next round of the UEFA Europa League as they take on SL Benfica at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens, later this evening.
The two teams drew 1-1 in the first-leg, which served as an away fixture for Arsenal, meaning the Gunners do have the advantage heading into this game. Mikel Arteta, though, has stressed that the away goal isn’t important when playing in a neutral venue when speaking to the media on Wednesday.
“The away goal is always important but in this context, I don’t think it’s that relevant. We take the game like there is everything still to play for.”, Arteta said during the pre-match press conference.
Regardless, the Spaniard had notably rested a few key players including defenders Gabriel Magalhaes and David Luiz in the recent defeat to Manchester City. Both the centre-backs are likely to return to the setup, at the expense of Pablo Mari and Rob Holding, who picked up a knock in the last game and has been ruled out this midweek.
Arteta is unlikely to make any changes elsewhere in defence as Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Bernd Leno retain their respective places in the starting eleven. There are, however, slight doubts over the appearance of Tierney, whose recent return from injury could force the Arsenal manager to persist with Cedric Soares at left-back.
Moving into midfield, Thomas Partey remains a doubt for Arsenal heading into this game. “Thomas is very close,” Arteta said. “He’s got a final test today in training. If he’s feeling good, he will be available to play the match.”
Nevertheless, it remains unlikely that Arteta would want to rush Partey back into the starting eleven, meaning Dani Ceballos could once again renew his central midfield partnership alongside Granit Xhaka.
There could be changes in the attacking unit as well, with Nicolas Pepe likely to make way for Emile Smith Rowe. Martin Odegaard, and Bukayo Saka, though, could retain their places in the starting eleven, with the former operating in his desired number ten position, hoping to provide the creative support for star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Nicolas Pepe, Willian and Alexandre Lacazette all remain viable options should Arteta look for offensive reinforcements during the second half.
Predicted Arsenal Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Gabriel, Luiz, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Aubameyang