Arsenal v Vorskla Poltava preview: Bernd Leno and Lucas Torreira in line for starts
Arsenal host Vorskla Poltava at the Emirates in Europa League Group E
Last Updated: 20/09/18 8:02pm
Bernd Leno and Lucas Torreira are in line for their first Arsenal starts as the Gunners host Vorskla Poltava in their Europa League opener on Thursday (kick-off 8pm).
Unai Emery - who won the competition three times with Sevilla - is expected to ring the changes, with Leno yet to feature for the Gunners since his summer move from Bayer Leverkusen.
Torreira will also be given his chance to impress, with Emery adding that any of the players who start on Thursday could be in line to feature against Everton live on Renault Super Sunday.
"First is tomorrow, then we are going to think about Sunday," he said. "Tomorrow we are going to change, to give the players options, to find minutes, confidence on the pitch. But maybe tomorrow's players can play Sunday.
"Every title for us is very important. In my career, the ambition is very important for continuing to improve and continuing to achieve the objectives in my career personally and with the team. I want to play for every title going forward."
Arsenal were the losing semi-finalists in the Europa League last year, but Vorskla Poltava manager Vasyl Sachko says his side are capable of getting a win.
"Our club is writing history, writing history for our city and that is a huge honour for us," he said. "We haven't come here just for a stroll in the park, we understand that Arsenal are the favourites but nevertheless our team is capable of pulling off this feat.
"Arsenal are not a Europa League team, they are a Champions League team. We are going to motivate our players to play well and give a good account of themselves."
Mohamed Elneny, Danny Welbeck and Stephan Lichtsteiner will be pushing for rare outings.
However, Laurent Koscielny (Achilles), Sead Kolasinac (knee), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (leg) and Carl Jenkinson (ankle) remain absent.
This will be the first-ever competitive meeting between Arsenal and Vorskla Poltava.
Vorskla Poltava are appearing in only their second UEFA Europa League campaign in its current format (since 2009-10). In their first, they won just two points from six group stages matches and scored only four goals.
Vorskla Poltava finished as the third best team in the Ukrainian Premier League in 2017- 18. However, with 49 points from 32 games to their name, they finished 26 points behind winners Shakhtar Donetsk and 24 points behind 2nd placed Dynamo Kyiv.
In winning the UEFA Europa League in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16, Arsenal manager Unai Emery shares the record for the most UEFA Cup/Europa League titles with Italian Giovanni Trapattoni (3). Emery is the only manager to win the Europa League/UEFA Cup three seasons in a row.
Arsenal made it through to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals last season, before losing 1-2 on aggregate to eventual winners Atletico Madrid.
I would expect Arsenal to be a bit like Chelsea; they will want to start the group well and with a win.
I imagine there will be a lot of changes with the likes of Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan coming in, so it will still be a strong enough team for me to expect Arsenal to win this.
The way Arsenal play they don't do clean sheets, so I am going to go for a 2-1 win and Mkhitaryan to score first.
When new teams come into the competition they get caught up in the emotions of it so I will also go with 60+ booking points.
Charlie predicts: Arsenal 2-1 Vorskla and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to score first (35/1 with Sky Bet)