Arteta on Arsenal extending their lead at the top of the table
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Arsenal are set to welcome Cedric Soares back to the squad for this Thursday’s Europa League match at home to Bodo/Glimt. The Portuguese star’s return is a boost in more ways than one for Mikel Arteta ahead of Sunday’s match at home to Liverpool.
Arsenal are riding high at the top of the Premier League and that is no doubt the priority competition right now. Arteta rang the changes in the only previous Europa League group stage game away to FC Zurich last month.
Only Gabriel, Granit Xhaka, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Gabriel Martinelli remained in the team following the 3-1 loss at Manchester United. Arsenal were without Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard, Reiss Nelson and Cedric at the time.
Arteta could now realistically make 10 changes against the Norwegian champions this Thursday and still field a relatively strong side. That would give the vast majority of his first-choice XI more of a rest before the visit of Liverpool at the weekend.
Cedric has recovered from his minor injury and could make his first appearance of the season at right-back against Bodo/Glimt. Takehiro Tomiyasu could partner Rob Holding in defence to give Gabriel a breather, with the Brazilian the only player to have played every minute for the Gunners so far this term.
Nelson’s return to fitness could also see Martinelli handed a well-deserved break from the starting XI, with Eddie Nketiah and Marquinhos also likely to be in the frontline. Lokonga and Fabio Vieira are set to start in midfield, leaving one spot up for grabs.
Arteta would have a decision to make over the third midfielder in his XI. Xhaka has played all but two minutes so far this term, so could be due a rest.
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Partey is not worth risking, especially from the start, with his knee heavily strapped during Saturday’s win over Spurs. Odegaard has played less than others and could keep his place in the team in what would be an attacking midfield.
Liverpool played Rangers last night, so have two extra days than Arsenal to recover for Sunday. Klopp fielded a stronger side than what Arteta is likely to select though.
Arteta will be hoping his second string can get the job done on Thursday. Full attention can then be on Liverpool, as Arsenal attempt to beat the Reds in the presence of fans at the Emirates for the first time in the league since April 2015.
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