Arsenal resume their Europa League campaign on Thursday as the Gunners travel to face BATE Borisov at the Borisov Arena in the first leg of their round of 32 tie.
Unai Emery’s side returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a crucial away victory against Huddersfield on Saturday, and will look to continue their quest to regain Champions League football through the Europa League in midweek.
With the FA Cup set to return at the weekend, the Gunners do not have another domestic commitment until they face Southampton in the Premier League later this month. Unai Emery may therefore pick a strong lineup in Borisov in a bid to earn a healthy lead in the first leg ahead of the return clash at the Emirates a week later.
Here is a selection of Unai Emery’s strongest available Arsenal lineup to face BATE Borisov on Thursday…
1. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Petr Cech (GK) – Bernd Leno is now firmly established as Arsenal’s first choice in goal, but veteran shot stopper Petr Cech is likely to regain his place between the posts for the cup competition and adds invaluable experience at the back for the Gunners in Borisov.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (RB) – With Stephan Lichtsteiner having struggled at right back during Arsenal’s recent loss to Manchester City, Maitland-Niles’ return to the side against Huddersfield was a significant boost to the Gunners and the versatile youngster is likely to keep his place.
Konstantinos Mavropanos (CB) – With Shkodran Mustafi having struggled for consistency in form and fitness in recent weeks, Thursday’s trip to Borisov offers the Gunners a prime opportunity to reintegrate Mavropanos into the first team following his return from injury.
Laurent Koscielny (CB) – Injuries to Rob Holding and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have restricted Emery’s options in central defence and an over-reliance on the fitness of Koscielny is not advisable, but with the Gunners not in action at the weekend the Frenchman should play.
Sead Kolasinac (LB) – Despite having proved to be more comfortable in a more advanced wing back role, the Gunners can expect to be on the front foot for the majority of their visit to Borisov and Kolasinac’s creative influence has proved invaluable for his side in recent weeks.
Lucas Torreira (CDM) – Emery has sought to add greater solidarity to his side in recent weeks by playing with either three at the back or a midfield diamond, but the Gunners must take greater attacking initiative in Borisov and could return to a more favoured 4-2-3-1 shape. Lucas Torreira was withdrawn early in the second half at Huddersfield and should start on Thursday.
Matteo Guendouzi (CDM) – The surprise package of Arsenal’s season so far, Guendouzi’s relentless energy and drive have been key assets in the Gunners’ midfield this term and the Frenchman is likely to continue in the absence of the injured Granit Xhaka in Borisov.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (RM) – Creativity has often suffered at the expense of Emery’s attempts to add greater steel through revised formations in recent weeks, but the Gunners should have plenty of licence to play their game in Borisov. Mkhitaryan returned from injury with a fine attacking display against Huddersfield and should keep his place on Thursday.
Alex Iwobi (LM) – With Mesut Ozil suffering with illness, Emery will continue to look elsewhere in search of an effective creative formula, and Alex Iwobi’s strong performance against Huddersfield suggested that the Nigerian is Arsenal’s go-to man for craft and guile in midfield.
Denis Suarez (CAM) – Emery has taken a cautious approach to integrating his January signing into his setup since Suarez arrived from Barcelona on deadline day. The Spaniard has made two substitute appearances so far but could be handed his first Gunners start in Borisov.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ST) – Alexandre Lacazette played the full 90 minutes and scored what proved to be the decisive goal against Huddersfield on Saturday, whilst Aubameyang missed out through illness. However, the Gunners’ top scorer is likely to recover in time to face BATE, and could be restored to add fresh legs in attack in Borisov.