The first setback. Despite controlling the majority of the match and looking like the better team, Arsenal dropped their first points of the season. Victim to the Premier League’s ineffective use of VAR with the opening goal. It’s baffling that a league which such vast resources, and perhaps too much ego, can still struggle to use the technology that Major League Soccer has implemented without a fraction of these issues. But now it’s time to move on and focus on the Europa League. Back in Europe after a season away and the chance to test out some of the new signings that have yet to start.
Last season FC Zurich won the Swiss Super League earning them a place in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round. The league title was their first since 2008-09. They were drawn against Qarabağ, ultimately falling 5 to 4 on aggregate, and dropped into the Europa League. This season they are winless in the Swiss Super League after seven matches and are tied at the bottom of their league table.
- Gabriel Jesus
- Martin Odegaard
- Bukayo Saka
- Matt Smith
- Oleksandr Zinchenko
- Ben White
- Cedric Soares
- Aaron Ramsdale
- Left Out: William Saliba (rested), Reiss Nelson (injury), Thomas Partey (injury), & Mohamed Elneny (injury)
- Last season Nketiah ended the year with five goals from the final seven matches. With a new contract, he solidified his place as Arsenal’s #2 forward. Thursday gives Eddie his first start of the season and the chance to make the Europa League campaign his own. The freedom of knowing he likely starts the European matches and the potential to help his confidence when he comes into Premier League matches late on. Thursday feels like the start of a new chapter for Nketiah.
- Reiss Nelson is injured. Martin Odegaard is dealing with a minor problem. Emile Smith Rowe apparently picked up a late injury during the warm-down at Manchester United. And you’d rather keep Bukayo Saka and Martinelli fresh for the Premier League at the weekend. That leaves Mikel Arteta with few options. Fabio Vieira should get his first Arsenal start, as should Marquinhos who has been in terrific form for the U21s. But who goes with them? If Smith Rowe is healthy, he starts on the left. If not, Martinelli may be asked to go again to avoid three debuts sitting behind Nketiah in the attack.
- If Smith Rowe is injured and Arteta doesn’t want Martinelli, Saka, Odegaard, or Jesus starting then there are a few contenders for a very young attacking line - Charles Sagoe Jr., Khayon Edwards, or Amario Cozier-Duberry.
- Considering the rotation Arsenal will likely have in attack, the defensive line, and in goal, it’s probably another Xhaka/Lokonga pairing. And honestly, what are the options? Start Matt Smith with one of them? Move Ben White and Zinchenko into midfield? Any option either leans too heavily on youth, a fitness concern, or a lack of cohesion.
- It’s a debut bonanza! USMNT keep Matt Turner should make his official Arsenal debut on Thursday in goal. Like Nketiah, the Europe League (and Cup competitions) will be Turner’s primary focus this season. A solid run of matches for the next few months is critical for his form heading into the winter World Cup.
- And are we finally ready to see the return of Takehiro Tomiyasu to the starting lineup? If so, it would be his first start for Arsenal since leaving the Newscastle match in the first half of the season’s penultimate game.
How to watch
Thursday (9/8) at 12:45 pm ET / 9:45 am PT on the Paramount+ & TUDN.
Arsenal - 2
Zurich - 1
If we see the heavily rotated XI expected it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Arsenal give up a goal on the road. However, with the strength Mikel Arteta will likely bring off the bench for the final 20-30 minutes the Gunners should be able to come away with three points away from home to open up group play.