Arsenal are set to welcome fans into the Emirates tonight but that will not stop Mikel Arteta from ringing the changes for the visit of Rapid Vienna in the Europa League. Arsenal only need a point from their final two matches to secure top spot in Group B, so you can’t blame Arteta if he chooses to rest players ahead of Sunday’s trip to north London rivals Tottenham. Express Sport have picked an XI we expect to see the hosts line up with tonight.
Goalkeeper – Runarsson
Runar Alex Runarsson has kept two clean sheets in his first two Arsenal matches and is set to keep his place tonight.
The Iceland international has this week stated his desire to become the club’s No 1 but has been restricted to cup appearances so far since his summer arrival from Dijon.
Runarsson has looked steady and untroubled in matches against Dundalk and Molde.
Whether he keeps his place in the knockout stages in February next year, when the opposition will get harder, remains to be seen.
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Defence – Cedric, Mustafi, Holding, Maitland-Niles
There is no need for Arteta to play three at the back against Vienna.
He fielded a back four in the win at Molde last week, with Cedric Soares and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the full-back positions – and they should keep their place tonight.
Calum Chambers is close to a return from his anterior cruciate knee ligament injury and Sead Kolasinac is available again after recovering from coronavirus.
But the duo may not be ready to complete 90 minutes, with Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding set to line up together in the middle of defence.
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Midfield – Pepe, Elneny, Willock, Nelson
The midfield won’t necessarily be a flat four, with Nicolas Pepe and Reiss Nelson both given the licence to link up with the strikers.
Pepe still has two games remaining on his domestic ban so will aim to build on his impressive outing in Norway last week.
Mohamed Elneny is set to start after he also recovered from a positive coronavirus test.
Joe Willock has started the last three games in all competitions but with doubts still lingering over Thomas Partey’s fitness ahead of the weekend, Arteta may choose to leave Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos out of his starting XI for this one.
Attack – Lacazette; Nketiah
Arteta started both Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah at Molde and could do the same again tonight.
Speaking at his press conference yesterday, Arteta said it was a tactic he is willing to persist with.
He said Lacazette is capable of dropping deep and playing off the more natural No 9 Nketiah.
Lacazette is in need of a goal having gone eight games without one.
Arsenal expected XI vs Rapid Vienna in full: Runarsson; Cedric, Mustafi, Holding, Maitland-Niles; Pepe, Elneny, Willock, Nelson; Lacazette; Nketiah.
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