Europa League 2018/19: Arsenal's predicted line-up against Qarabag
The Arsenal squad has just departed for Azerbaijan after Unai Emery decided that the new should train in the new stadium before the match on Thursday night. It is completely opposite from Arsene Wenger's style as the French manager had preferred for the boys to train in London before departing for the match. No one knows if such a change in training venue would have an impact on the performance or not, but one thing for sure is that Emery has brought a strong team.
Petr Cech came off just before half-time after injuring his hamstring and the goalkeeper is expected to miss a month of action. Bernd Leno then made his debut and managed to keep a clean sheet for the team. Although the German looked a little shaky in the early stages when he just took over, he soon became more comfortable and aware of the demands. It was the first clean sheet for him since making the move as he has failed to keep any in the Europa League and Carabao Cup fixtures.
After winning seven consecutive matches in all competitions, the Gunners are looking to make it eight out of eight. There are still concerns about the team's lacklustre first-half performances in almost every single game, but Emery has somehow managed to turn the tide around in the second-half and motivate his side to be more clinical in their football. Overcoming Qarabag should not be of a great problem, but the question is whether the Gunners can keep a clean sheet and score more goals than they usually do. Here is how the line-up for the Arsenal team could look.
Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno
With Cech injured, there is little doubt that Leno will be starting in between the posts for his side. Although he did look wobbly and uncertain in a couple of matches, he is still in the process of adapting. Emery has to choose between Leno and Emiliano Martínez, hence the former looks to be the better option.
Right-back: Stephan Lichtsteiner
It should be the time for the Swiss international to play again after he has been seen as the second-choice right back of the club. Bellerin probably will not be risked in the fixture and Emery will go ahead to play the former Juventus defender.
Centre-back: Rob Holding
When presented the chance to fight a spot in the starting eleven, Holding certainly did his best to hold onto that position. In the last two matches, he showed his maturity to play alongside Shkodran Mustafi. It was the German centre-back who looked the worse of the duo. Hence, Holding is extremely likely to be named in the starting eleven.
Sokratis suffered a dead leg in the match against Everton. He was given the chance to fully recover when Arsenal faced Watford over the weekend. Now that he has travelled and fit to play, Emery is likely to start him alongside Holding.
Left-back: Sead Kolasinac
Kolasinac has been out of action since Arsenal's preseason. He recently resumed full training and was selected to travel as well. Nacho Monreal ought to be given a rest and the game will be a good chance for Emery to determine Kolasinac's qualities and how he can contribute.
Centre Defensive Midfielder: Matteo Guendouzi
With rumours surrounding the youngster that Didier Deschamps could call him up for the upcoming international friendlies, it is a good time for him to play in the Europa League while giving the senior first-team stars a rest. He is capable of bringing lots of energy into the team which can be a positive asset for Arsenal.
Centre Defensive Midfielder: Mohamed Elneny
Elneny partnered Guendouzi in the last Europa League game and Emery could opt to choose the same midfield partnership. Even though he has not played in EPL, the Egyptian could still be ready to play with Guendouzi in the heart of the midfield.
Left winger: Mesut Ozil
Given that Ozil is on a scoring streak, it is a good opportunity for Emery to continue keeping him in the starting eleven. The German midfielder has looked more confident in recent games although he still remains anonymous during some occasions. If he can get a positive result on Thursday night, it will be another boost for him.
Central Attacking Midfielder: Alex Iwobi
Everyone says that Iwobi is a changed man after Emery took over. Fans are finally starting to see the Nigerian excel in the midfield. Iwobi has predominantly been a substitute in the EPL, but now, it is the time for him to start a match for the Gunners.
Right winger: Danny Welbeck
There is little doubt that Welbeck is also in a fine form. He has been scoring in key matches despite not being the man chosen to represent the club in the EPL. When the manager calls upon him, Welbeck delivers.
Central Striker: Alexandre Lacazette
Nothing went well for Lacazette over the weekend. He missed great chances but eventually, still managed to aid his side to a victory. The French striker could start for his team ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Eddie Nketiah.