Arsenal take on Rapid Vienna at the Emirates tonight knowing we’ve already booked our place in the knockout stages of the Europa League. This is the team I’d like to see Mikel Arteta select for the game…
With qualification done and dusted, obviously the boss will rest his key players ahead of Sunday’s huge North London Derby so Bernd Leno will make way with Alex Runarsson given another chance to impress between the sticks.
Gabriel, Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney will all be given a rest ahead of the Tottenham game while David Luiz won’t be risked after suffering a nasty cut to his head following his horrific clash with Raul Jimenez last weekend.
With William Saliba and Sokratis unavailable, and Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari still working their way back to full fitness, I’d start Sead Kolasinac – who’s available again after testing negative for covid – alongside Shkodran Mustafi in the middle of defence.
In midfield, Thomas Partey remains out with his thigh issue but Arteta suggested yesterday that the Ghanaian still has an outside chance of being fit for Arsenal’s trip to Tottenham on Sunday.
Granit Xhaka should be rested for the Spurs game so Mohamed Elneny can start in midfield and I’d give Dani Ceballos a run out before subbing him in the 60th minute. I also hope we see Emile Smith Rowe given a start tonight as he’s back to full fitness. Joe Willock can be given a breather.
Obviously Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be rested for Arsenal and I hope we see Bukayo Saka left out to save him for the Tottenham game but Nicolas Pepe is available to start as his ban only covers domestic games.
Reiss Nelson deserves a chance to impress in attack and another positive display tonight could put him in contention to start ahead of Willian at the weekend as the Brazilian has been woeful of late.
Up front, Eddie Nketiah is pushing for a recall while I hope we see Folarin Balogun feature at some point after he scored off the bench against Molde last week but I would start Alexandre Lacazette up front tonight. The Frenchman desperately needs a morale-boosting performance so let’s hope he gets among the goals.
This would be my Arsenal XI: