Thursday’s Europa League match against Qarabag FK at the Emirates is a dead rubber. Arsenal have already clinched first in the group and Sporting have locked up second. A meaningless match is good news for the Gunners, who need all the time they can manage to rest players and get healthy. The situation is particularly dire at centerback - Rob Holding (knee, out for season), Shkodran Mustafi (hamstring, being evaluated), Dinos Mavropanos (groin, yet to return to training) are all out.
Notably absent from the list of injured centerbacks is Laurent Koscielny. The Frenchman is expected to start against Qarabag, his first senior team appearance since tearing his Achilles last May. Unai Emery said in his press conference that the team would evaluate whether Koscielny can play the full 90 against Qarabag, then decide after the match whether he will be available at Southampton at the weekend.
Mesut Özil (back) and Aaron Ramsey (ankle) are both fit and available for selection on Thursday as well. Unai Emery said Özil will play but that he is not sure whether it will be in a starting or substitute role.
I expect Unai Emery to deploy a young lineup against Qarabag, similar to the one that started at Vorskla. Arsenal have used 26 different players in the group stage, most of any team in the competition. That number may increase tomorrow — Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Carl Jenkinson, Mohamed Elneny, and Mesut Özil could be the only senior team players to feature.
When these two sides met on Matchday 2 in Azerbaijan, Arsenal won 3-0 with Sokratis, Emile Smith Rowe, and Matteo Guendouzi all scoring their first goal for the club.
WHAT: Arsenal vs. Qarabag FK
WHERE: The Emirates
WHEN: Thursday, December 13th 12 PM PT | 3 PM ET | 8 PM BT
US TV: UniMas (Spanish). Streaming on the B / R Live app ($$$, US only).
Be sure to check livesoccer.tv for all your international streaming needs. Please do not discuss links to illegal streams here.