Preview: Qarabag vs Arsenal | duo miss out, Martinez to start + prediction

By on October 4, 2018


Arsenal are in Azerbaijan ahead of our Europa League group stage encounter with Qarabag later this afternoon [5.55pm kick off].

It’s fair to say we head in to the game in fine form as recent victories over Everton, Brentford and Watford have extended our winning run to seven games in all competitions so Unai Emery has certainly turned things around since losing to Man City and Chelsea.

Arsenal also made a winning start to our Europa League campaign as we eased to a 4-2 victory over FC Vorskla last month so we can take control of Group E with a win this evening ahead of our crucial double-header with Sporting Lisbon.

Hopefully we’ll be right in the mix for the top four of the Premier League this season but the Europa League is another viable route back to the Champions League and Emery is a specialist in this competition having won the Europa League three times in a row with Sevilla.

Team News

Petr Cech has been ruled out for up to four weeks with a hamstring injury while Laurent Koscielny, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Dinos Mavropanos are all still out with long-term injuries.

Aaron Ramsey hasn’t travelled to Azerbaijan after asking to remain in London with his pregnant wife while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been ruled out due to sickness.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is another absentee as the playmaker decided not to apply for a special visa allowing Armenian nationals to enter Azerbaijan due to security fears amid ongoing tensions between the two countries.

The likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Hector Bellerin, Lucas Torreira and Nacho Monreal have all made the long-haul trip while we should see Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sead Kolasinac, Mohamed Elneny, Matteo Guendouzi, Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck all start.

Preferred line-up

With Bernd Leno now set for a run in the first team I wouldn’t risk him so Emi Martinez should get a rare start in goal while I’d like to see Emile Smith Rowe given a chance to impress with Ozil rested. This would be my line-up:

Score prediction

Arsenal have a solid record in the Europa League over the past couple of years and our ‘B team’ usually gets the job done so I’m confident we’ll come away with all three points today. It will probably be a tough game and our fragile defence will no doubt gift Qarabag some chances but I think we’ll edge it in the end. Qarabag 1-2 Arsenal

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