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Arsenal’s predicted XI vs Benfica in the Europa League

After failing to take their chances last week, Arsenal face Benfica in the second leg of their Europa League clash on late Thursday afternoon, knowing that the tie is very much up in the air.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a host of chances to put the game to bed, but the Gunners’ profligacy in front of goal ensured that things are left well poised at 1-1.

Mikel Arteta made a few changes to his starting line-up for the weekend’s Premier League defeat to Manchester City, perhaps with one eye on his team selection for Thursday.

Should Aubameyang be dropped tonight?

Yes!

Yes!

No!

No!

And with that in mind, below is a look at how the Gunners might take to the field against Benfica.

arsenal-predicted-xi-benfica

In goal, Bernd Leno will keep his place as the Gunners’ undisputed number one, although he is likely to see some key changes to the men in front of him.

Rob Holding has been ruled out for Thursday’s game due to concussion protocols, so David Luiz should be brought back in. The Brazilian could be joined by compatriot Gabriel, as Arteta goes back to the centre-back duo that started in the first leg last week.

Depending on Kieran Tierney’s fitness, the Gunners boss may stick with the Scotsman, but on the other side, he may choose to drop Hector Bellerin, and instead go with Cedric, who of course set up Bukayo Saka’s equaliser in the reverse fixture.

In midfield, Thomas Partey is unlikely to be risked from the start despite confirmation from Arteta that he’s pushing for a recall, and that could see Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos hold down the midfield positions.

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Starting off with an easy one...

Further forward, the likes of Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe should all feature, while the other big call Arteta may make is dropping Aubameyang.

The Gabon international had the horror showing in the first leg, with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp even claiming he is past his best. Gabriel Martinelli has been restricted to substitute appearances lately, and is surely pushing for a start, especially given that Arteta took Aubameyang off for the 19-year-old against Benfica in the first leg.

Predicted XI: Leno; Cedric, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Martinelli.

Article title: Arsenal’s predicted XI vs Benfica in the Europa League

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