Unai Emery needs a victory and any kind will do. Let’s be honest, Arsenal fans are looking for some sign that the ship is steady and that the Spaniard has control.
It may not end up that way because in their first encounter, Vitoria had every right to feel short changed, having put in a decent performance but football rarely gives teams what they deserve.
Arsenal’s form in the Europa league is vastly contrasting to that of the premier league but they haven’t been entirely convincing at times and it’s rather fortunate that their opposition has been on hand to gift them results.
Martinelli and Saka should start for Arsenal and there may be a shuffle in personnel with the crucial clash against Leicester on the horizon and if Emery is slightly distracted by that, it’s entirely understandable given the circumstances.
The Europa league has proved a welcome distraction for Arsenal from the abject and listless performances that Emery and Arsenal supporters have had to endure in the league. It’s still a meaningless backdoor to the champions league and one the gunners squandered in style last season in a mauling defeat to Chelsea.
This term however, has seen a glut of goals and string of decent results but Arsenal still cant defend and they certainly don’t travel well. That combination is an obvious concern and with Vitoria trying to avoid four consecutive defeats in the competition, their tails should be up for a tussle.
Last time out, they fought Arsenal hard and looked the better team for long periods but they still ended up on the wrong side of the winning post thanks to two scorching free kicks from Pepe.
He will play if only for his set piece expertise but he has more than that to offer and it’s only a matter of time before he explodes into life. Duarte and Edwards for Vitoria, will be only too keen to get back on the scoresheet but this time secure a justifiable result with three points.
It may be an fixture for the kids, with Willock, Saka, Nelson and Maitland Niles pushing for a start. The youngsters will need to push home the advantage by providing much needed service and opportunities for Martinelli to add to his tally.
Away from home, I’d settle for a draw and a point wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Preferred side :-
Martinez, Bellerin, Sokratis, Holding, Tierney, Guendouzi, Torreira, Pepe, Cabellos, Saka and Martinelli.
Expected line up :-
Martinez, Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Tierney, Guendouzi, Torreira, Pepe, Cabellos, Saka, Lacazette.
Predicted result :- Vitoria 2-2 Arsenal