Arsenal are tipped to make it three wins from three in Group F of the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League when the Gunners host Vitoria Guimaraes at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.
Oddsmakers back the hosts after an explosive start to the tournament yielded seven goals during wins over Eintracht Frankfurt and Standard Liege. If there is any hope for Guimaraes, it comes from the Gunners entering the match on a downer following Monday's 1-0 defeat away to Sheffield United in the Premier League.
A small turnaround between fixtures means head coach Unai Emery is likely to make wholesale changes. Fortunately for the Spaniard, he has plenty of options at his disposal, including full-backs Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin, who have been working their way back toward full fitness.
Emery could also give minutes to returning striker Alexandre Lacazette and little-used playmaker Mesut Ozil.
Date: Thursday, October 24
Time: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET
TV Info: BT Sport 2
- Arsenal: 2-7
- Guimaraes: 25-2
- Draw: 26-5
Odds per Oddschecker
Emery has been cautious in his management of Tierney's fitness, leaving the former Celtic defender on the bench for the game against the Blades. However, Tierney showed off his quality going forward when Arsenal emphatically beat Liege:
The Scot represents a significant upgrade over Sead Kolasinac, while Bellerin would also offer better end product than either Calum Chambers or Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Overlapping full-backs are a key part of Emery's somewhat muddled tactical blueprint, so the sooner Tierney and Bellerin get up to speed the better.
Emery's bigger decisions will concern players in forward areas. Specifically, whether he hands a rare start to Ozil, who "has now been left out of the Gunners' last four matchday squads," per BBC Sport.
For his part, Arsenal's highest-earner is content to stay at the club at least until his contract expires:
The Gunners have been missing Ozil's flair and ingenuity, while Lacazette's strength can also improve things in attack. An ankle injury has sidelined the Frenchman, who needs more than the 21 minutes he played against the Blades to get back on track.
Guimaraes won't be able to keep pace with Arsenal's match-winners in the final third, but the visitors will try to get Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Leo Bonatini involved early and often. The Brazilian striker is useful in the air and has a keen eye for goal.
Attacking midfielder Rochinha will also try to assert himself if the Gunners continue to struggle in possession.
Yet there is enough strength in depth in Emery's squad to believe Arsenal will rebound and continue dominating the group.