Arsenal are already into the knockout stages of the Europa League with two games remaining in the group stage. The first of that pair is today, when Rapid Wien travel to the Emirates. The Gunners “magic number” for winning the group is a point gained or Wien dropping a point, so a result today locks up first in the group. The visitors are tied on 6 points with Molde, fighting for second in the group.
When Arsenal traveled to Vienna in late October, it took post-70th minute goals from David Luiz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 4 minutes apart to lift the squad to victory. Mikel Arteta had to use his full complement of 5 subs and bring on several first choice players to overcome a feisty Rapid Wien side that had staked themselves to a 1-0 lead.
The Emirates will play host to 2000 fans today, the first match with spectators in attendance since March. Arsenal also become the first Premier League team in England to have supporters back in the stadium, so all eyes will be on the Emirates for how they’ve decided to handle the crowd control logistics. It’ll be nice to hear real crowd noise again. Hopefully the 2000 in attendance are in full voice.
Mikel Arteta should use Arsenal’s comfortable position in the group to give some of the younger players a start and significant minutes. I’m sure the fans in attendance will be happy to see the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson, and Folarin Balogun take the pitch.
David Luiz is unavailable for today’s match; according to the club, the cut on his head from his nasty collision with Raul Jimenez will take “some days” to heal and will keep him out. Thomas Partey is also out. The midfielder has been training on his own and will soon undergo another scan of his thigh injury to determine how far along his recovery has progressed.
Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari are both making appearances for the Arsenal youth sides, but are not quite ready for first team action. Mari may be ready for next week’s Europa League match. Chambers’ timetable appears to be slightly behind Mari’s, but he should be ready for first team action sometime this month. Gabriel Martinelli is aiming to get U23 playing time this month as well. [Update: obviously, Pablo Mari was further along than expected — he starts today]
Sead Kolasinac has returned a negative COVID-19 test and will be available. I expect him to get a starting nod.
Arsenal - Runarsson, Cedric, Mustafi, Pablo Mari, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Elneny, Pepe, Lacazette, Nketiah
Tonight's lineup is in!— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 3, 2020
Alex Runarsson in goal
Pablo Mari starts at the back!
Eddie Nketiah leads the line
Rapid Wien - Strebinger, Sonnleitner, Ritzmaier, Alar, Hofmann, Greim, Ullmann, Kitagawa, Arase, Schuster, Demir
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