Bellerin back in as Lacazette misses out – The Arsenal team Arteta should pick vs Slavia Prague


Arsenal are back in Europa League action when they take on Slavia Prague in the quarter-final first leg at the Emriates.

The Gunners will be hoping to use the game to put an abysmal performance against Liverpool behind them that Mikel Arteta admitted was one of the most shocking he’d seen in his time at the club.

“I don’t know if it was the worst, but probably one of the worst and the one that really shocked me,” he said after the match.

“It leaves us in that position that we have to apologise for what we’ve done on that pitch today throughout the game.”

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The defeat to Liverpool now means that Thursday night’s match takes on even greater significance as European qualification via the Premier League is more or less impossible, meaning Arsenal must win the Europa League to stand any chance of playing continental football next season.

With that in mind football.london have got our Gunners reporters to give Arteta a helping hand for what will be one of his most important team selections of the campaign.

Kaya Kaynak – Arsenal correspondent

After the Liverpool defeat there can be no doubting that this now is Arsenal’s most important game of the season so I expect Mikel Arteta to go for the strongest line-up available to him.

Bernd Leno may not be in the best of form right now having conceded in each of the last 12 matches, but with Mat Ryan still a relatively unknown quantity in a Gunners shirt, I expect the German to keep his place.

For me, Cedric has to replace Kieran Tierney at left-back as Bukayo Saka is too important to the attack right now. That makes the decision at right-back slightly easier as it means Hector Bellerin comes back into the side.

Despite a shaky display against Liverpool, I think Gabriel is just the kind of physical presence Arsenal need against Slavia’s aggressive style. It’s then splitting hairs between Rob Holding and Calum Chambers for the other central defensive spot, but I’m going for the former Southampton man based on form.

Into midfield and Granit Xhaka has to start alongside Thomas Partey for me after Dani Ceballos‘ shambolic performance on Saturday.

While I think Gary Neville’s ‘mafia’ comments about the front line were a bit over the top there is no doubting that changes need to be made in attack for Arsenal.

As previously mentioned, Saka starts on the right for me if fit with Emile Smith Rowe through the middle as it seems Martin Odegaard may be unavailable.

On the left, I’d go for Nicolas Pepe as the Ivorian showed some of his best form in a Gunners shirt in that position with Cedric in behind.

Up front, Slavia Prague are a very different proposition to Liverpool and it is likely that Arsenal will spend most of the game in the opposition half trying break their opponents down.

With this in mind, a lethal penalty box finisher is needed in the centre-forward position, so I’d just about go for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang over Alexandre Lacazette despite the pair’s respective form.

Kaynak’s Arsenal XI vs Slavia Prague: Leno; Bellerin, Chambers, Gabriel, Cedric; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe; Aubameyang.

The summer transfer window is just around the corner.

And the rumour mill is already starting to pick up speed.

Arsenal will not have a huge amount of money to spend, but Mikel Arteta will be hoping to make a number of moves, with loanee Martin Odegaard high up the list of priorities to bring in on a permanent deal.

But who would you sign? Get involved in our transfer window debate here.

Andy Ha – Trends Editor

Mikel Arteta is preparing for the biggest game of Arsenal’s season, with the Europa League likely to be the Gunners’ only viable route into Europe next season.

But the Spaniard comes into the match with several key selection headaches, not least the injury which looks set to rule Kieran Tierney out for at least a month.

In the defender’s absence, Bukayo Saka may be asked to deputise, having filled the role to good effect before, but this would rob Arsenal of his creativity in attack.

Rob Holding should again start as the right-sided centre-back alongside one of Gabriel or Pablo Mari, but it may be the Brazilian who drops out after his shaky display against Liverpool.

In midfield, Granit Xhaka should come straight back into the side after missing the weekend defeat, whilst Emile Smith Rowe is also set to be available, which is timely given the doubts over Martin Odegaard’s fitness.

Ha’s Arsenal XI vs Slavia Prague: Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Cedric; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang; Lacazette





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