Arsenal will get their UEFA Europa League campaign underway on Thursday night when they host Ukrainian outfit Vorskla in Group E.
UEFA Europa League
Date: 20 September 2018
Game week 1
Kick-off: 21H00 (GMT+2)
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Referee: B. Vertenten
Assistants: R. Vanyzere, T. Nijssen
Fourth official: Y. De Neve
Players to watch:
Gunners boss Unai Emery is likely to hand some of his fringe players game-time with defensive midfielder Lucas Torreira expected to start for the first time this season. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has yet to really get going this term, may also be given a chance to win back his place in the Arsenal line-up.
Vorskla forward Vladyslav Kulach has scored two goals in six appearances this season. The 25-year-old, who is on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk, should be the visitors’ main goal threat.
Team form and manager quotes:
After a slow start to their Premier League campaign, Arsenal appear to have found some form under their new manager. The north London outfit have won three in a row heading into the Vorskla tie.
Arsenal beat West Ham United 3-1, Cardiff City 3-2, and most recently Newcastle United 2-1 in their last three outings and will be looking to keep the good times rolling in Europe.
Asked about the importance of the Europa League for Arsenal, Emery told the press: “Manchester United played in it also. They got into the Champions League through into this competition.
“The last year for Arsenal was very, very important. We lost in the semi-finals to Atletico Madrid. The Europa League can help a lot. After the Champions League, the Europa League is the most important competition.
“If teams cannot play in the Champions League, it is very important.”
Meanwhile, Vorskla will be looking to put in a respectable performance at the Emirates Stadium as heavy underdogs. The Ukrainian side are expected to finish bottom of the group, which also contains Qarabag and Sporting CP.
The last time Vorskla competed in the Europa League was in 2011/12 when they were knocked out of a group containing Hannover 96, Standard Liege, and FC Copenhagen.
They have won three of their last four domestic games, against Mariupol, Chornomorets, and Karpaty.
Arsenal will be without injured trio Sead Kolasinac, Laurent Koscielny, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Vorskla are missing Vladimir Odaryuk and Denis Vasin due to injury, while Yuriy Kolomoets’ fitness is doubtful.