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Arsenal v. Eintracht Frankfurt preview: third time is the charm

The Gunners kick off their third straight season in the Europa League with a stiff test.

Arsenal Training Session
Buyako Saka could be in line to make an appearance against Eintracht.
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Thursday nights in Frankfurt sound a lot more manageable than Thursday nights in Baku, right? The Gunners begin their Europa League campaign tomorrow evening with a trip to Germany to face EL semifinalist Eintracht Frankfurt in their toughest group stage fixture. Die Adler (The Eagles) sit 9th in the Bundesliga and finished 7th in the table last season.

Eintracht have scored in bunches this season, potting 3+ goals 4 times in 11 matches in all competitions. I’d love to say that those goal outbursts came against weaker competition than Arsenal, but, uh, have you watched the defense this season? The shot differential speaks for itself. Portuguese striker Gonçalo Paciência leads the German side with 6 goals this season but faces a late fitness test to be available tomorrow. The Gunners will also need to keep an eye on 6’5 Dutch attacker Bas Dost, who scored 23 goals in 33 appearances last season at Sporting CP. For more background on tomorrow’s opponent, check out our Q&A with the Hey Eintracht Frankfurt podcast.

Arsenal have gone 9-2-1 in the Europa League group stage over the last two seasons but are coming off a poor second half showing against Watford at the weekend that saw them ship two goals and drop two points. There have been some rumblings in the media about discontent in the locker room and tactical confusion / uncertainty among the players, but it is too early to tell whether that is because of the poor result or part of a larger issue brewing in North London. A good showing in a tough away test, which haven’t been Arsenal’s forte, would go a long way towards clearing the dark clouds.

For the first time since tearing his ACL in December 2018, Rob Holding has traveled with the first team and is available for selection. Alexandre Lacazette, Dinos Mavropanos, Hector Bellerin, and Kieran Tierney are all still out. Good news - the club announced yesterday that Bellerin and Tierney are back in full training.

Eintracht’s top scorer Gonçalo Paciência and midfielder Sebastian Rode are both doubts. The home side will also be without Mijat Gacinovic, Jonathan de Guzman, and Marco Russ.

WHAT: Arsenal at Eintracht Frankfurt

WHERE: Commerzbank-Arena, Frankfurt, Germany

WHEN: Thursday, September 19th 9:55 AM PT | 12:55 PM ET | 5:55 PM BST

BROADCAST: In Spanish on UniMas. English streaming on B/R Live ($$$).

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