4-2-3-1 – Martinez & Smith Rowe Start: My Arsenal line-up to face Qarabag

By on October 3, 2018

emile smith rowe arsenal

Arsenal are in Azerbaijan ahead of our Europa League group stage encounter with Qarabag on Thursday night. This is the line-up I’d like Unai Emery to select…

Goalkeeper: Martinez

Petr Cech has been ruled out for up to four weeks with a hamstring injury so Bernd Leno is now set for a run in the first team. Emery has hinted he’ll start the German tomorrow but I think that’s a risk given he’s now our No.1 for the foreseeable future so I think it would be prudent to hand Emi Martinez a rare start in goal.

Defence: Lichtsteiner, Holding, Mustafi, Kolasinac

There should be wholesale changes in defence with our key men rested ahead of the trip to Fulham on Sunday so I hope we see Sead Kolasinac making his first appearance of the season in place on Nacho Monreal at left-back while Stephan Lichtsteiner should replace Hector Bellerin on the right.

Sokratis is expected to be recalled after missing the last two matches with a dead leg but I’d rather we save him for the Premier League game this weekend so Rob Holding should continue alongside Shkodran Mustafi tomorrow.

Midfield: Elneny, Guendouzi

Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka seem to be the first choice midfield pairing these days. Both have travelled to Azerbaijan but hopefully Emery will leave them on the bench with Mohamed Elneny coming in alongside Matteo Guendouzi. It’s not the most dynamic of partnerships and they won’t create much but they should give us a solid foundation in front of the defence.

matteo guendouzi

Aaron Ramsey has been left back in north London to be with his pregnant wife so there is a void to fill in the advanced midfield role. Mesut Ozil is obviously an option as he’s been included in the squad but I’d love to see Emile Smith Rowe given a chance to impress. The teenager is fit after recovering from a minor hip injury so hopefully he’ll get some game time tomorrow.

Attack: Welbeck, Iwobi, Lacazette

Henrikh Mkhitaryan hasn’t travelled as the Armenian didn’t want to apply for a special visa needed to enter Azerbaijan due to the ongoing issues between the two countries while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also back in London with a sickness bug.

Therefore, we should see some changes in attack and I think it’s fair to say Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi both deserve to start after changing the game off the bench against Watford at the weekend.

Alexandre Lacazette is being tipped to keep his place up front and while ideally we wouldn’t risk him, we don’t have too many other options other than Eddie Nketiah so I’d stick with the Frenchman and pray he doesn’t get injured.

Here is the side I hope we’ll see:

That would be my starting eleven but in reality I expect Emery will go with Leno in goal, Sokratis instead of Mustafi and Ozil ahead of Smith Rowe tomorrow night.