So tonight’s game may mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it will give the main Arsenal players the chance to have a rest from our gruelling fixture list, and also to give some of our youngsters a chance to impress Unai Emery in a real matchday atmosphere. And of course it gives Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal a chance to gain a little bit more fitness as well.
Form probably won’t mean much here today, but Qarabag have lost 4 of their 5 Europa League Group games going into tonight and would not expect to put up much of a fight whoever takes the field for the Gunners. Unai Emery made it clear there would be changes made. He told Arsenal.com: “Our first aim in this competition, we have done, which was to be first in the group. But we respect this competition and we respect Qarabag and tomorrow our objective is to win and we are going to give players chances tomorrow to take responsibility, take rhythm and take confidence.
“Also, because we are going to play a lot of matches, in the next 10 days we play four matches – each of them very important – so in the Europa League our first objective we did it, so tomorrow we are going to use some different players with also players coming from the under-23 team and also it is in our planning to start with Laurent Koscielny.”
I doubt that Koss The Boss will be our only first team player as Emery will not want to surrender our unbeaten run so easily, but it is always good to see our up-and-coming young stars in action. I was hoping to see Nketiah, Willock and Smith-Rowe leading the line, but the latest news that Smith-Rowe is injured and will miss tonight’s match. That is a real shame for the lad. But, as they say, the game must go on, so here is my predicted team to face Qarabag…
Jenkinson Sokratis Koss Monreal
Elneny Guendouzi Maitland-Niles
That should be enough to retain our unbeaten record at least, but I think it will be an exciting game and am going to predict a 4-2 win for the Gunners.