Arsenal continue their Europa League campaign on Thursday, playing host to Dundalk FC. The Irish side will be a desperate one after they dropped their group stage opener 2-1 at home to Molde. The Gunners will be looking to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the group.
The big question about Arsenal, as it has been for a few weeks now, is and will continue to be about shot and chance generation. The Gunners aren’t creating enough offense. Mikel Arteta has been tinkering with the lineup and the formation, presumably with the hope of sparking something, but hasn’t found the formula quite yet. I think he’s in a bit of a Catch-22 at the moment: he’d like to use the Europa League games to build attacking chemistry among the first-teamers, but playing the first-teamers means they’re less rested and able to excel in the Premier League. The Gunners take on Manchester United on Sunday.
Arteta deployed a stronger-than-expected lineup for the match against Rapid Wien, and I’d expect him to trot out a similarly strong lineup for Dundalk. I think he deploys a few more first-teamers than Nathan predicted, in particular, I think Thomas Partey will start to continue to familiarize him with his teammates. I’d also bet that either Bukayo Saka or Kieran Tierney starts on the left to add a bit more attacking punch to the lineup. For what it’s worth, I think Bernd Leno gets the nods in goal.
Dundalk play a 2-3-5 in possession, not dissimilar from what we saw Arsenal try to do against Leicester City, especially in the first half. This Twitter thread highlights how they try to play and where their main attacking threat comes from. TL:DR — they try to build from wide, get 2 or 3 men into the area, and pick them out with crosses.
THREAD:— Dom (@DomC0801) October 28, 2020
Arsenal face 14-time League of Ireland winners Dundalk in the #UEL group stage tomorrow. Dundalk hired current Head Coach Filippo Giovagnoli on an interim basis in August before giving him the job permanently following Dundalks #UEL play-off win over Faroese side KI. #afc pic.twitter.com/dkoXmJ7WZe
To defend those crosses, Mikel Arteta will likely call on Shkodran Mustafi because David Luiz will miss out with a thigh injury. The Brazilian centerback will be reassessed before Sunday’s match. Willian has recovered from his calf injury and is available for selection. Rob Holding is recovering quicker than expected from his hamstring issue and is expected back in full training next week. Calum Chambers has returned to full training and is working on regaining match fitness. Pablo Mari is aiming to integrate into full training after the November international break. Gabriel Martinelli is still targeting the end of the calendar year for his return.
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