Arsenal face a tricky trip in Europa opener
PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 September 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
Arsenal begin their Europa League campaign tonight (Thursday) as they travel away to Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Gunners will be determined to get the group stage off to a strong start at Commerzbank-Arena, especially on the back of a 2-2 draw with Watford in the Premier League on Sunday.
The north Londoners squandered a two-goal half-time lead at Vicarage Road as defensive errors again cost Unai Emery's side, who were lucky to leave Hertfordshire with a point as the Hornets had 31 shots on goal.
They face a tough test in Germany as Frankfurt made it to the semi-finals of the competition last season before crashing out to eventual winners Chelsea who beat Arsenal 4-1 in the final in Baku.
It is expected that Arsenal will make a few changes to the line-up but it may come too early for the likes of Hector Bellerin, new signing Kieran Tierney and Dinos Mavropanos who are all back in full training.
boss Emery could make a change at the back after predominantly opting for David Luiz and Sokratis as his defensive duo this season.
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The latter's costly mistake against Watford, combined with the increase in fixtures over September, means that the unpopular Shkodran Mustafi could return in his native Germany.
Youngsters Joe Wilock and Reiss Nelson could also get recalls to the line-up after featuring several times in the competition last season.
Emery has insisted whoever is selected, his side must be stronger mentally after midfielder Granit Xhaka's comments to press following the draw with Watford.
"I think in football you never need to be scared," he said.
"You need to take that moment as an experience for you and for us, but really I can feel the players, I can feel me the same, sometimes when we were struggling, the possibility to not achieve our good consequence with our game plan.
"But we need to be strong in our mentality, but not for the players, for us, and to create our way, working and improving."
Arsenal return to Premier League action on Sunday as they welcome top-flight new boys Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium for a 4.30pm kick-off and then host Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday in a busy spell of three games in six days.