Arsenal will attempt to cement top position in Group A when FC Zurich visits the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night, having wasted one opportunity to qualify for the final 16 of the Europa League.
Despite losing 2-0 to PSV Eindhoven last week, Mikel Arteta’s men remain first in the division, while their Swiss opponents can only join the Europa Conference League at best.
Regaining top spot in the Premier League by putting five unanswered goals past the Tricky Trees, Arsenal are now well-placed to book their ticket to the last 16 of the Europa League and simply need to match or better PSV’s result against Bodo/Glimt to do so – Arteta’s side will be hoping that the artificial Norwegian turf can trip up their Dutch adversaries as it nearly did them.
Two points separate Arsenal and PSV heading into the final matchday, and the Emirates fortress should certainly serve the Gunners well on Thursday, as they welcome Zurich to North London having won each of their last 11 competitive matches at home.
A 1-0 victory over Sion at the weekend made it back-to-back wins for Zurich ahead of this game – the Swiss champions had miserably failed to triumph in 13 matches in all competitions prior to beating Bodo/Glimt – and the new manager bounce appears to have arrived late, but it has arrived nonetheless.
With a total of 15 goals conceded in their five group-stage games – the worst defensive record in the entire competition – Zurich will travel to North London in hope more than expectation, and Arsenal secured a somewhat nervy 2-1 win over the Swiss giants two months ago.
Arsenal are reportedly confident that the foot injury Bukayo Saka suffered in the win over Nottingham Forest is not a serious one, and the 21-year-old could even be back for the trip to Chelsea, but for the time being, two-goal substitute Reiss Nelson should fill in on the right.
Saka did train on Wednesday alongside Oleksandr Zinchenko in a major double boost for the Gunners, but Matt Turner is still being plagued by a groin problem, so Aaron Ramsdale should be given the nod again.
Emile Smith Rowe is still absent, but Mohamed Elneny has also returned to training much quicker than expected from a serious hamstring injury.
The Egyptian will likely need more time to get up to speed, though, leaving Arteta in a tricky position with Granit Xhaka banned.
The midfielder’s suspension could tempt Arteta into pairing Thomas Partey up with Albert Sambi Lokonga, taking some of the defensive responsibility off the latter’s shoulders.
Alternatively, Fabio Vieira and Martin Odegaard could both start in a midfield trio.
As for Zurich, Fabian Rohner will return to the squad amid a domestic suspension, but Mirlaid Kryeziu, Ilan Sauter, Blerim Dzemaili, Donis Avdijaj and Miguel Reichmuth are all sidelined.
Possible starting lineup:
|Ramsdale, Aaron||Brecher, Yanick|
|Magalhaes, Gabriel||Boranijasevic, Nikola|
|Saliba, William||Guerrero, Adrian|
|White, Ben||Kamberi, Lindrit|
|Tomiyasu, Takehiro||Kryeziu, Mirlind|
|Xhaka, Granit||Selnaes, Ole|
|Saka, Bukayo||Aiyegun, Tosin|
|Odegaard, Martin||Marchesano, Antonio|
|Partey, Thomas||Conde, Cheick Oumar|
|Martinelli, Gabriel||Dzemaili, Blerim|
|Jesus, Gabriel||Okita, Jonathan|
Arsenal = 46.1%
Draw = 27.0%
Zurich = 26.9%
Arsenal 3-1 FC Zurich
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