Thomas Partey Arsenal FC
Thomas Partey Arsenal FC

Arsenal take on Benfica in the Round of 32 of the Europa League on Thursday and the Gunners will be hoping to kill off this tie as early as possible.

Arsenal go into this game at the back of a 1-0 loss to Manchester City during the weekend and things could very easily go sideways in midweek as well since the first leg vs Benfica was tied at 1-1.

Arsenal are undefeated in their last 7 matches in the Europa League which will be a big positive for Mikel Arteta but Benfica, themselves have not tasted defeat in the UEL in their previous 8 games.

The North London side should be favourites to pick up a win this week since they scored that crucial away goal in the first leg. But the manager could be set to make a few changes to his starting line-up and this might possibly tilt the tie in favour of the visiting side.

Arsenal team news vs Benfica:

Rob Holding picked up a head injury during the weekend and the club have confirmed that he will not be featuring on Thursday. The absence of Holding means Gabriel will come back into the side. David Luiz is likely to replace the other centre-back, Pablo Mari.

Kieran Tierney will keep his place from the weekend but Hector Bellerin could be rested, in which case, Cedric Soares will come into the side.

Thomas Partey will not be ready for Thursday’s game and this is a huge setback for Mikel Arteta. Elneny played alongside Xhaka against Man City but Dani Ceballos is expected to be named in the first XI this time around.

Emile Smith-Rowe was surprisingly dropped to the bench vs City as Odegaard got to start but the academy graduate should come back into the side against Benfica.

Aubameyang played through the middle in midweek but on Thursday he will go back into the left wing meaning Lacazette will get a start. The Frenchman hasn’t started Arsenal’s last three matches but he should be leading the line in midweek.

Nicolas Pepe has been more or less a regular figure in the last few weeks and he will keep his place on the right wing. If Pepe starts then young Bukayo Saka will have to be content with a place on the bench.

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