5 things you didn’t know as Arsenal train and Emery reveals his tactics

Things haven’t been this positive for a while at Arsenal.

In the Premier League they’re ruthlessly blowing teams away and marching up the table, while in Europe they’re making headway at a steady pace.

Last time out the Gunners thumped Leicester City, but face a different challenge in the form of Sporting Lisbon on Thursday afternoon.

The Portuguese giants have suffered something of a crisis in recent months, but they’re still a force to be reckoned with – something Unai Emery will be reminding his Gunners.

Arsenal hit the training ground ahead of the match in the beautiful Portuguese capital – and here’s five things you need to know.

1. Three players will be missing out

Arsenal have taken 21 players with them to Portugal for their Europa League group game against Sporting Lisbon on Thursday afternoon.

However, they are only able to name 18 players in their matchday squad, meaning three will not have the chance to take part in the action tomorrow.

Deyan Iliev is expected to be one of the three to miss out, given the fact that Arsenal will play Bernd Leno and stick Emi Martinez on the bench.

Carl Jenkinson will likely by the other player to miss out, but the third selection will likely raise some eyebrows.

The most likely candidate is Emile Smith-Rowe as he is the only non-first team player in the list of 21, despite many expecting to see him in the competition.

It will be interesting to see whether he gets the nod over one of the more experienced players, or whether he’s just been brought along for exactly that, the experience.

2. Three players at the back?

Emery discussed ringing the changes in his press conference ahead of Thursday’s game.

Speaking to the media he suggested he may play three at the back.

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"Now we are finding the best combination," explained Emery. "Some matches are good moments to try different options.

"Tomorrow is not the best because of our composition with the players. I think we will continue tactically with what we are doing."

3. Emery takes this competition seriously

Everyone knows that this competition belongs to the Spaniard.

During his time in charge of Sevilla he made progressing in it – and winning it for that matter – look a lot easier than it actually is.

But it’s not just getting the chance to lift the cup that appeals to Emery.

As he explained in his press conference on Wednesday, he wants to win it because of it’s direct path to the Champions League.

"I grew up a lot individually in this competition. I think this competition is very important because it’s one title and also you go into the Champions League next year," said Emery.

"For us, for Arsenal and the supporters I am telling them it is very important."

4. Mesut Ozil is on cloud nine

There’s no denying the German receives more criticism than your average player for his perceived lack of energy or fight when things aren’t going to plan.

But in the Gunners’ past few fixtures he’s been nothing short of superb.

Last time out Emery handed him the captain’s armband and challenged him to lead Arsenal to a tenth straight win in all competitons.

The Foxes took an early lead, to make the task harder, but Ozil lead by example and netted the equaliser before turning provider for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Ozil, who had a difficult summer, appears to be really enjoying himself at Arsenal at the moment and the north London club are reaping the benefits. Long may it continue.

5. A big opportunity for this man

The Europa League provides Emery with the perfect opportunity to shuffle his pack.

And one man who will be hoping for the chance to shine on Thursday is former Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck.

Both Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang have been on fire in recent weeks, meaning there is no place in the first team for the forward.

But Emery will want to rest the duo midweek and will be looking at Welbeck to lead the line.

The striker has previously come alive in this competition for Arsenal, and must do so again in Lisbon if he is to remain in Emery’s plans. After all, his contract is set to expire in 2019.

Will Arsenal win the Europa League this season?


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