Red Star Belgrade v Arsenal preview: Gunners aim to maintain perfect Europa League record
Last Updated: 19/10/17 6:52pm
Arsenal will look to put domestic issues to one side when they travel to Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League on Thursday (kick-off 6pm BST).
Following defeat at Watford on Saturday, Arsene Wenger's men will be looking for an instant response and to maintain their 100 per cent record in Europe this season against a Red Star Belgrade side who are currently second in Group H with four points from two games.
The Rajko Mitic Stadium in Serbia is famed for being one of the most intimidating in Europe, but Wenger does not think the atmosphere will affect Arsenal's performance.
"The support of the team always has a positive impact, but we have the habit to deal with that - we have these stadiums in England and we have long experience in the Champions League," he said.
"I don't think that will have a negative impact on us. But of course, we are in a country which has a big football tradition, has produced fantastic players in history, a country that knows team sport and knows football very well. So we expect of course a game with huge commitment from everybody."
Wenger said it was "possible" that Mathieu Debuchy could start in Serbia, with the France international in line for his first appearance in 11 months.
The defender has been sidelined and almost left in the summer but is now expected to start in Serbia as Arsene Wenger rings the changes.
Petr Cech will start in goal as David Ospina has not travelled while Danny Welbeck (hamstring) and Santi Cazorla (ankle) are among a host of first-team players not to travel.
Red Star Belgrade look to have a fully fit squad for the match, including Manchester City loanee Luka Ilic.
This will be the third meeting between the two sides and first since 1978-79 in the UEFA Cup (last 16), when Arsenal were eliminated after they lost 1-0 on the road and then drew 1-1 Highbury.
Red Star have lost just once in their last 11 games in European competition (inc. qualifiers), winning six (D4).
Red Star have won five of their previous eight European home games against English sides (D2 L1) - their only defeat came against Bolton in December 2007 in the UEFA Cup, courtesy of a goal from Gavin McCann (0-1).
Arsenal have kept just one clean sheet in 13 previous away games in the Europa League/UEFA Cup (vs Panathinaikos in 1981). However, the Gunners have won their last three on the road, after losing five of the previous six (D1).
Charlie Nicholas' prediction
They may be dressed up in a different name but this is still the great Red Star Belgrade which won the European Cup at the start of the 90s.
They've started with four points and are clearly still a decent technical side, with good young players looking to impress against an Arsenal side who were rotten at Watford.
I didn't think Alexis Sanchez would make it at the weekend, but still, the lack of attacking options was really concerning. They don't create enough for Alexandre Lazazette and he's asked to link up when he should just be playing in that number nine role.
They should still have enough quality to come through here, though, especially with the depth Arsene Wenger still has in his squad.
Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud will come back in and I can see them both pressing their claims for a starting place.
Charlie predicts: 1-2 and Wilshere to score first (50/1 with Sky Bet)
Arsenal are odds-on at 3/4 with Sky Bet to record the victory, with Crzena Zvezda 7/2 to cause an upset and 14/5 to secure a draw. The Gunners are just 1/20 to win Group H and 6/1 joint favourites with AC Milan to win Europe's second-tier title.
Sky Bet find it impossible to pick a main threat from Arsene Wenger's options, with Olivier Giroud, Alexandre Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott all 7/2 to open the scoring, while Richmond Boakye and Aleksandar Pesic are considered the hosts' main threats at 13/2 apiece to break the deadlock.