Predicted 4-2-3-1 Arsenal Lineup Vs SL Benfica - Luiz to return
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 07: David Luiz of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Leicester City at Emirates Stadium on July 07, 2020 in London, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Following a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Arsenal are hoping to advance to the next round of the UEFA Europa League, as they take on SL Benfica once again on Thursday. The Gunners do have the away goal advantage, so avoiding the defeat and keeping a clean sheet should be their main target, though things could be tricky against a strong Benfica attack.

Predicted 4-2-3-1 Arsenal Lineup Vs SL Benfica

Defence

Mikel Arteta had made quite a few defensive changes to the side that faced Manchester City on the weekend, giving Rob Holding and Pablo Mari the nod in central defence. It appears the Spaniard has set his sights on the Europa League, which means Gabriel Magalhaes and David Luiz should return to the side as the first-choice centre-backs.

There are unlikely to be any changes elsewhere as Bernd Leno and Hector Bellerin are set to retain their respective places in the starting lineup. Kieran Tierney, though, is a doubt.

The left-back made a welcome start against Manchester City, but given his recent fitness problems, handing him another start could be a risk. As such, we expect Arteta to opt for Cedric Soares at left-back.

Predicted 4-2-3-1 Arsenal Lineup Vs SL Benfica - Cedric and Gabriel to start.
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 06: Cedric Soares and Gabriel Magalhaes of Arsenal warm up prior to the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park on February 06, 2021 in Birmingham, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Midfield

Changes could be in order in central midfield as well as Mohamed Elneny makes way for Dani Ceballos. The Spaniard should renew his partnership with Granit Xhaka in the double-pivot.

Thomas Partey is facing a race against time to return to full fitness ahead of the Thursday clash. He is likely to remain out, although Arsenal do expect him to make his comeback soon enough.

Elsewhere in midfield, Martin Odegaard is tipped to retain his place in the number ten role after being subbed off during the final phase of the game against Manchester City. His creativity could be crucial as the Gunners look to breach the Benfica defence this midweek.

Attack

Alexandre Lacazette was not drafted into the starting eleven once again by Mikel Arteta on the weekend, and things aren’t going to change anytime soon. Indeed, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should spearhead the Arsenal attack this midweek, but with a reinforced creative unit as Arteta plans to welcome Emile Smith Rowe back into the starting lineup.

The youngster should operate on the left-hand side replacing Nicolas Pepe while Bukayo Saka should shift to the opposite flank. Their combination play alongside Odegaard could go a long way in helping the Gunners prevail in the offensive department on Thursday.

Jack O’Brien

A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.