Arsenal are in Rome to take on Benfica in the first leg of our Europa League tie this evening. This is the team I’d like to see Mikel Arteta select for the match…
Arteta selected our No.2 goalkeeper in our last three Europa League group stage games but we have to field our best line-up in the knockout stages – especially as Arsenal are 10th in the Premier League and struggling to qualify for Europe. Therefore, Bernd Leno should start tonight.
Arsenal have been handed a big boost as Kieran Tierney has travelled and is in the squad after recovering from a knee injury. He’s only had one full training session but he’s a super-fit lad so should be ready to start at left-back. I have a feeling Arteta won’t risk him but I’d rather see Tierney start tonight and then rested against Man City on Sunday as we’ll probably lose that match regardless of who plays at left-back!
Rob Holding was rested during the win over Leeds United last weekend so he’ll return this evening. David Luiz will probably keep his place but I’d rather Gabriel partnered Holding in the middle of the Arsenal defence. Hector Bellerin should also keep his place at right-back with Cedric Soares on the bench.
Unfortunately, Thomas Partey is still out with his thigh injury. He’s in individual training but this game comes too soon so he’s not travelled to Italy. Dani Ceballos impressed at the weekend so I’d stick with him alongside Granit Xhaka.
I thought Martin Odegaard impressed against Leeds and I’d like to see him given another start tonight. Emile Smith Rowe has been excellent but he’s looking a little jaded so I’d give him a breather and start Odegaard in the No.10 role.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave us a scare after picking up an ankle knock during the closing stages of the Leeds game. Thankfully, he trained yesterday and is available for selection so he should start up front with Alexandre Lacazette on the bench.
Obviously Bukayo Saka should keep his place as he’s probably the first name on the team-sheet right now. Nicolas Pepe was rested against Leeds so he deserves to come in on the left as he’s been impressive in recent weeks.
Unfortunately, I can’t find a place for Gabriel Martinelli in my line-up but he’d be a useful player to have from the bench. For some strange reason Arteta has picked Willian ahead of Martinelli when he’s brought on a sub lately but let’s hope that stops tonight.
This would be my line-up: