Kolasinac & Guendouzi starts in 4-3-2-1 Arsenal strongest Europa League lineup v Sporting

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Arsenal boss Unai Emery has challenged his team to beat Sporting Lisbon to qualify for the last 32 of the Europa League as group winners.

The London club have won all three of their Europa League matches and will guarantee top spot with two games to spare with a home win on Thursday.

Portugues giants Sporting are second in Group E, with six points from their three matches.

“It’s a very important match because if we win we’re first in the group – that’s our clear target,” said Emery.

“This competition is very important for us. It’s one way to win a title and get into the Champions League next year.

“We want to continue to improve and to continue with the players taking responsibility and confidence. I want to continue at the Emirates with our supporters with the same spirit as in the matches against Blackpool, Leicester and Liverpool.”

England international Danny Welbeck scored the only goal in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Sporting in Portugal in October.

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech returned for the League Cup win over Blackpool but the 36-year-old wasn’t at his best and I think Emery will recall Leno against Liverpool as the German was in fine form during Cech’s absence.

Defence: Hector Bellerin is a doubt after picking up a thigh injury during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace so Stephan Lichtsteiner is on stand-by to continue at right-back if the Spaniard is ruled out.

Nacho Monreal is facing a race against time to prove his fitness but Sead Kolasinac is back in full training after recovering from a hamstring injury so he should be passed fit to return at left-back.

We should see changes in the middle of defence with Sokratis expected to be recalled after being rested in the Carabao Cup while Rob Holding may come in for Shkodran Mustafi as the German has played in the last two matches.

Midfield: Matteo Guendouzi is suspended after being shown two yellow cards in midweek but he was unlikely to start anyway as Lucas Torreira should be recalled in midfield while Granit Xhaka is also expected to come back in to the side with Ainsley Maitland-Niles making way after starting his first game since the opening weekend of the season. Mohamed Elneny is ruled out with a muscle issue.

Attack: Emery is set to make wholesale changes in attack with Mesut Ozil in-line for a recall after being rested against Blackpool. The German playmaker threw a tantrum after being subbed at Palace but Emery played down the incident after the game and Ozil is expected to start on Saturday.

Aaron Ramsey will be the man to make way as the Welshman has lost his first team place under Emery having been told he’s free to leave Arsenal when his contract expires at the end of the season.

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