Arsenal are set to take on Benfica in Rome this evening, in what will be considered the away leg of our Europa League tie.
While the away leg is usually the tougher leg, the shift to neutral stadiums gives the home team more of a disadvantage in trying to avoid conceding those crucial away goals.
The Gunners will make the trip with almost a full squad of options available also.
Mikel Arteta has admitted that Kieran Tierney has returned to full training this week and was able to make the trip, while the only man left behind in England was Thomas Partey.
MA told his pre-match press conference (via Arsenal.com): “Thomas didn’t travel. He’s not there yet, he’s still training individually. Kieran has had one session with us and is part of the squad.”
The only other player unavailable it Runar Alex Runarsson, who was replaced in our Europa quota by Mat Ryan in January.
Predicted Arsenal XI:
Bellerin Holding Luiz Tierney
Pepe Smith Rowe Aubameyang
I know, I know, Bukayo Saka is the all-important name missing from the starting XI, but something tells me that he will be starting on the bench tonight. The fact that he played the full 90 minutes on Sunday, while Smith Rowe played just over an hour, tells me the latter is the most likely to feature.
Nicolas Pepe has been much-improved in recent months, and has already shown he can be very effective in the Europa League group stages, and I expect he will get the nod also.
Will the manager opt to rotate the team or could he even play the same line-up as he did versus Leeds?