This is our favoured line-up for Arsenal’s trip to Rapid Vienna
Arsenal kick off their Europa League campaign tomorrow evening with a trip to Austria to face SK Rapid Vienna. After a disappointing defeat in the league at the weekend, and with some big fixtures games against Leicester and Manchester United lined up in the weeks ahead we put together a list of who we think will (or should) start in Vienna.
Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson:
With Arsenal’s recent trend of using backup – or cup – goalkeepers in the Europa League and domestic cup competitions, it wouldn’t be surprising if Arteta did the same on Thursday. The new man seemed confident in the interview he gave to the club upon signing, and it would be nice to see him in action for the first time.
Rob Holding will not be available for a few weeks, as Arsenal just announced. This will present Shkodran Mustafi with a great chance to get his season underway. He has yet to make an appearance for Arsenal after picking up an injury in July, but is indeed available for selection tomorrow. Many are surprised that the German did not leave this summer, but this could well be his last season.
This one is a longshot. Aside from a friendly in pre-season, the French youngster hasn’t yet featured for Arsenal since his loan spell at St-Etienne last season. If Mikel Arteta sees fit to give him his first outing in the Europa League on Thursday, then that would be an exciting prospect, but we also don’t hold out much hope considering it seems like he’s had difficulty settling into the team.
The Brazilian played well against Manchester City at the weekend, and it would be nice to get him some more minutes under his belt while he seems to be in solid form. As well as being good defensively, he also came up with perhaps Arsenal’s best attacking pass in the second half, with a dangerous cross which flashed through the City penalty area. His passing range and experience would be handy again on Thursday.
The versatile youngster has at times been a real stand-out under Arteta. Whether in midfield, on the left or on the right, his aggression and quick feet going forward can be a nightmare for defenders. Given his absence from the team in the league in recent weeks, this seems like the perfect opportunity to step up and stake his claim for a more regular spot in the team.
Dani Ceballos & Granit Xhaka
Despite Arsenal’s recent lack of creativity in recent games, the midfield pairing is still an important part of Mikel Arteta’s current system. They have also built up a real affinity, and look comfortable playing alongside each other, and their experience should not be discounted when facing up against what could be a tricky side in Rapid Vienna.
The Spaniard is, at the moment, the nailed-on choice at right-back. After a tricky spell immediately after recovering from injury, he seems to be back playing close to his best football, and pace going forward will always be useful.
The Frenchman was sorely missed against City. His workrate and hold up play in midfield are a vital part of the way Arsenal play given the lack of other creative outlets in the middle of the pitch. It also helps that he’s been in decent goalscoring form this season. The decision to omit him this weekend was a strange one, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that rectified, and Lacazette starting tomorrow night.
The Ivorian was decent against City, but it still feels as if he’s finding his feet at Arsenal. Having seen sporadic glimpses of brilliance, it would be nice to see him continue to accumulate minutes in order to find his best form.
Aubameyang’s name on the team-sheet should be a given. His goalscoring streak has dried up somewhat since signing his new contract, and he looked starved of service at the weekend, but given a less formidable defence, Thursday looks like a good opportunity for him to discover his form. He only needs one chance, and without his goals the team looks less threatening and the front line a lot more blunt.
Author: Ben Kitto
Photo Credit: joshjdss, 2016