Belgrade v Arsenal preview: outcast recalled, 2 teenagers to start + prediction

By on October 19, 2017

jack wilshere arsenal 2015

Arsenal can put one foot in the knockout stages of the Europa League with victory over Red Star Belgrade in Serbia this evening.

Our away struggles in the Premier League continued at the weekend as we slumped to a controversial 2-1 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road to leave us nine points adrift of leaders Man City.

However, it’s been a different story so far in Europe as the fringe players have secured consecutive victories over Cologne and BATE Borisov to see us sit top of Group H.

Red Star are our nearest rivals on four points so they could actually replace us at the top with a win tonight but victory for Arsenal would all-but ensure we’ll be in the next phase of the competition.

Team News

Arsene Wenger is set to make wholesale changes to his team once again with the boss sticking to his policy of playing the fringe players and youngsters in Europe.

Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will get another chance to impress in the wing-back positions while 18-year-old Joe Willock could also get a run-out in midfield.

Wenger confirmed yesterday that forgotten defender Mathieu Debuchy will start his first game in 11 months as he’s expected to line-up in the back three having played as a centre-back recently for the U23s.

Jack Wilshere will come in to the side along with Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud while Francis Coquelin is fit to return after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez trained yesterday after overcoming minor knocks but they aren’t expected to be involved while Laurent Koscielny won’t be risked after picking up cramp against Watford.

The likes of Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka, Alexandre Lacazette, Nacho Monreal, Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac will be rested while Danny Welbeck, Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi remain injured.

Expected line-ups

Petr Cech will start in goal as David Ospina hasn’t travelled to Serbia while the newspapers claim Mohamed Elneny will play in the back three alongside Rob Holding and Debuchy.

Belgrade XI: Borjan; Stojkovic, Le Tallec, Babic, Gobeljic; Donald, Krsticic; Srnic, Pesic, Radonjic; Boakye

Match Prediction

This isn’t going to be a straight forward game by any means. Red Star have a great record in Europe and have won five of their last eight games against English teams at home. The atmosphere in the Rajko Mitic Stadium is going to be intense so this will be a big test, especially for the youngsters. Our miss-mash starting eleven still has quality so hopefully we’ll cause them some problems but as the BATE game showed, we’re still going to be susceptible at the back. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends 2-2 but hopefully we can edge it 2-1.