It was a bright opening half as Arsenal controlled the game and looked the more threatening side. They couldn’t capitalize on that advantage and fell to Leicester City’s first shot on goal deep in the second half. A win would have pushed Arsenal into 4th place, but the defeat sees them slip to 11th in a tight Premier League table. Despite the three losses, and frustrating second half on Sunday, the Gunners are still just four points off the top of the table. Plenty of time to correct the attack and push on, but three points at home in the Europa League would be a welcome start.
On match day one, Arsenal struggled in the opening half before Pepe set up wonderful free kick for David Luiz to draw the Gunners level. Then Arteta’s second half substitutions of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Hector Bellerin connected for the game winner. Thursday’s opponent Dundalk lost their opening match in group play 2-1 to Molde.
The 2019 Irish Premier Division champions recently wrapped up their postponed and adjusted 2020 campaign this past weekend with a 1-0 defeat, but did finish third overall in the league earning another Europa League position.
The team’s official injury update as of Tuesday is Gabriel Martinelli, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari & Rob Holding. However, we await to get an update on both David Luiz and Bukayo Saka who left Sunday’s match with knocks. Considering Willian wasn’t added to the report, despite another absence, and was seen training on Saturday, he is likely available for selection this Thursday.
Predicted Starting XI
- Alexandre Lacazette
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
- Bukayo Saka
- Emile Smith Rowe
- Reiss Nelson
- Thomas Partey
- Granit Xhaka
- David Luiz
- Héctor Bellerín
- Kieran Tierney
- Bernd Leno
- Matt Macey
Notes on the XI:
- Left Out: No one with the expanded Europa League 12 player bench.
- Injured: Rob Holding, Pablo Mari, Gabriel Martinelli & Calum Chambers.
- Mikel Arteta has improved Arsenal’s defense since taking over. Only Aston Villa who have played one less match in the Premier League have let in fewer goals than the Gunners. But the attack has paid the price. As Arteta searches for answers, Thursday offers another chance for someone to step forward and spark the offense. I’d expect three new faces from Sunday’s lineup with Nketiah likely up top, Pepe on the wing and Willian opposite him - or Reiss Nelson if Willian isn’t ready for a return.
- Rather than opt for the wing-back or wide midfield roles Mikel has been utilizing often with Maitland-Niles and Cedric, I’ve gone with a traditional back four here. Arsenal need to be on the front foot at home against Dundalk. Maitland-Niles deserves to start at RB over Cedric after last week’s performance, with Kolasinac, Gabriel and Mustafi the most likely trio along with him on the backline following Luiz’s exit on Sunday.
- The midfield is a bit more interesting. It’s fairly safe to expect to see Elneny start. Joe Willock hasn’t gotten on the pitch for the first team since 10/1 in the FA Cup, so it’s time to give him another run out on either side of Elneny in the midfield or as the 10 role which is out of favor with Arteta. Then the options for the final spot are (1) Ceballos, (2) Partey (but that would be three straight starts with Manchester United ahead on the weekend potentially being four in a row), (3) Xhaka (someone you’d like to save as an emergency CB if Luiz is out and looking ahead to the weekend), or (4) move Maitland-Niles to left midfield and bring Cedric back into the starting XI.
- With the limited action Willock and Nelson have seen it seems unlikely that Emile Smith Rowe would get a start on Thursday, but when? With the attack needed fresh ideas, a lineup featuring academy graduates might be the idea at home.
- If David Luiz and Bukayo Saka aren’t available for the bench then I’d expect to see Joel Lopez added as defensive depth and one of the U23 midfielders.
- And finally, it’s time for the debut of Alex Runarsson.
Needing a win a Thursday, following Sunday’s defeat, and coming against a side fans will be expecting three points from at home, who is in your starting XI?
How to watch
Thursday (10/29) at 4:00 pm ET / 1:00 am PT on CBS All Access.