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
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.
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.
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.
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