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Vitoria vs Arsenal preview | Confirmed team news, teenage trio start + prediction

By on November 6, 2019

gabriel martinelli 2019

Arsenal can all-but secure qualification to the knockout stages of the Europa League with a win over Vitoria in Portugal this afternoon.

The match will kick-off at the very unusual time of 3.50pm on a Wednesday afternoon because Vitoria’s local rivals Braga are also playing at home on Thursday so the police couldn’t cope with both games being played on the same day. Plus, with UEFA insisting nothing can clash with Champions League matches tonight, Vitoria versus Arsenal had to be an early kick-off.

It’s been a turbulent build-up to the game as the Granit Xhaka saga took a fresh twist yesterday when Unai Emery confirmed the midfielder has been stripped of the captaincy and hasn’t travelled to Portugal for today’s game. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has now been installed as the new Arsenal captain.

It’s the right decision from Emery but he’s still firmly under the spotlight as Saturday’s frustrating draw with Wolves has left us six points outside the top four in the Premier League table and fans are no longer convinced he’s the man to take us forward.

The Europa League could offer Emery some brief salvation as a win this afternoon would book Arsenal’s place in the knockout stages as long as Standard Liege don’t beat Eintracht Frankfurt tomorrow night.

Team news

Arsenal have virtually a full-fit squad to choose from as Emile Smith Rowe is the only absentee with the youngster ruled out with a minor knock. Reiss Nelson is back in contention after recovering from a knee injury.

Xhaka has been left back in north London along with Mesut Ozil, David Luiz, Calum Chambers and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang so Emery is expected to rotate his squad this afternoon.

Reiss Nelson Arsenal

Vitoria have a number of injury concerns as Andre Andre, Ola John, Falaye Sacko, Valeriy Bondarenko, Jhonatan, Alhassan Wakaso, Joseph Amoah and Miguel Oliveira are set to miss out.

Preferred XI

I hope Ainsley Maitland-Niles starts at right-back as Hector Bellerin should be saved for Saturday’s clash with Leicester City while Sead Kolasinac, Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi should all come in to the back four.

Joe Willock is set to start and I’d go with Dani Ceballos and Lucas Torreira alongside him in the middle of the park. Nicolas Pepe could feature after not playing against Wolves but I’d prefer to see him rested with Nelson starting on the right.

I’d also like to see fellow teenagers Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli starting in the Arsenal attack this afternoon so it would be a youthful front line.

Here is the team I’d go with:

football formations

Vitoria XI: Silva; Garcia, Venancio, Tapsoba, Hanin; Edwards, Almeida, Agu, Evangelista, Davidson; Duarte.

Prediction

Vitoria gave a great account of themselves at the Emirates as they led 2-1 with ten minutes to go before Pepe came off the bench to score two stunning free-kicks to save Arsenal’s blushes. I was very impressed with the Portuguese outfit and no doubt today’s match will be a stern test, particularly as Arsenal have won just one of our seven trips to Portugal.

However, I still expect us to get the job done today. The cup team has been impressive for this season and I think Martinelli will cause them all sorts of problems. I’m going for a narrow 2-1 Arsenal win.

Vitoria 1-2 Arsenal

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