Qarabag vs Arsenal LIVE: Team news confirmed; Unai Emery makes NINE Europe League changes

Qarabag vs Arsenal LIVE: Team news confirmed; Unai Emery makes NINE Europe League changes

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

QARABAG 0-1 ARSENAL | SOKRATIS (4)

Arsenal XI: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Sokratis, Monreal, Elneny, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Smith Rowe, Kolasinac, Welbeck

Qarabag XI: Vagner, Medvedev, Huseynov, Rzezniczak, Agolli, Madatov, Michel, Garayev, Zoubir, Ozobic, Emeghara

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: REUTERS)

QARABAG 0-1 ARSENAL

14: Sokratis Papastathopoulos is the 18th different player to score for Arsenal in the Europa League since the start of last season, seven more than any other team.

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: REUTERS)

13: The Qarabag players are losing their composure already as the referee ignores a blatant foul from Rob Holding. Yes, it’s a foul but no need for a caution or that kind of response. Chill out, lads!

10: It’s been a perfect start for our two British sides. Celtic are also ahead against last year semi-finalists RB Salzburg. Eduardo got the opener after two minutes.

8: Arsenal players are receiving a hostile reception. There’s plenty of jeers, boos and whistles whenever a red shirt touches the ball. There’s an extra loud boo for Sokratis, naturally…

QARABAG 0-1 ARSENAL | SOKRATIS

5: You just knew the man with the most unpronounceable name in top-flight football would break the deadlock.

That’s right, Sokratis Papastathopoulos has opened the scoring for Arsenal inside five minutes when bundling home Nacho Monreal’s header.

Perfect start for the Gunners, who are looking quite comfortable in their new formation.

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: REUTERS)

3: You might just recognise a few of these Qarabag players. Hannes Halldorsson is the Iceland international goalkeeper and midfielder Michel used to play for Birmingham. Who could forget, eh?

Arsenal’s bench cost three times as much as their starting XI. Not particularly useful information but I knew I would forget if I didn’t write it down. Enjoy!

QARABAG 0-0 ARSENAL

1: OK, we’re underway in Baku. Baku famous of course for holding the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, and a few other events I suppose…

Predictions? I’m not saying this to wind up Arsenal fans. I genuinely think tonight will be a real test for a heavily changed side. I’ll plump for a 1-1 draw.

Two-minute warning

17:53: We’re nearly underway here in Azerbaijan. You now there are 70,000 packed into the stadium tonight – 200 of those are die-hard Arsenal supporters. Fair play to those who’ve travelled.

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: REUTERS)

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: GETTY)

Twitter round-up

Darren: I love how Unai Emery starts every interview with “Good evening.” What a guy.

Kyle: Looking forward to seeing both Smith-Rowe and Iwobi. Iwobi has been excellent for Arsenal of late and every time I see Smith-Rowe I’ve been impressed he looks like he has a great future ahead.

Jordan: Is Sead Kolasinac playing wide left in front of Nacho Monreal? That will be interesting considering they both hug the touchline.

Easily pleased, Darren. Easily pleased…

Absent…

17:35: Arsenal face being without goalkeeper Petr Cech for up to a month because of a hamstring injury.

Cech was replaced early in the second half of Saturday’s Premier League match against Watford, with Bernd Leno coming on to keep a clean sheet as the Gunners won 2-0.

Arsenal said in an injury update on their official website that Cech had a “left hamstring injury” and was “expected to return to full training in three to four weeks”.

As well as not making the trip to Azerbaijan, the veteran goalkeeper will also definitely miss Sunday’s Premier League match at Fulham.

Cech could now face a battle to be fit in time for the home game against Liverpool on November 3.

Big chance for Leno to establish himself as No.1…

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: GETTY)

Arsenal ‘saved’ Mkhitaryan

17:30: Qarabag boss Gurban Gurbanov claims Arsenal “saved” Henrikh Mkhitaryan and were “afraid” of the pressure exerted on him by playing in front of a 68,000 capacity crowd – with the visitors taking only 200 supporters.

“I didn’t want politics to interrupt the sport but we could not do anything on this issue,” he said. “But Arsenal Football Club tried to save this player but it is not a matter for us if he is coming or not.

“If Henrikh Mkhitaryan would come to Azerbaijan it is not the first time, but until now a lot of Armenian sportsmen came to Azerbaijan but it is the choice of Arsenal that they didn’t send him. Arsenal may be afraid that in front of 60,000 Azerbaijani fans, Mkhitaryan has some pressure and that is why they didn’t send Mkhitaryan.”

Twitter round-up

Tom: Looking forward to seeing Emile Smith-Rowe start another game for us. So much potential talent – in recent years we haven’t nurtured raw talent the way we should – hopefully with the structural changes we made, he will be the first of many promoted into the squad.

Natalie: Hopefully my bus runs to time and I only miss the first 10 minutes!

Stephen: On paper, front three of Welbeck, Iwobi and Smith-Rowe are perfectly fit Emery’s pressing from the front style, and lots of pace too. Only worry is how prolific they can be.

Run like the wind, Natalie!

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: GETTY)

Goals everywhere!

17:20: Since the start of last season, 17 different players have scored for Arsenal in the Europa League. That’s either a very good thing or a very bad things for punters. My advice? Keep your cash in your pocket!

Bad record

17:15: That’t a bit of an understatement really.

Qarabag have played four European games against English opposition – Chelsea and Tottenham – but lost all of them.

In those game they have scored once and conceded 14.

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: GETTY)

Elsewhere…

17:10: So the other three matches of British interest are:

RB Salzburg vs Celtic, Chelsea vs MOL Vidi and Rangers vs Rapid Vienna. The last two start at 8pm and Express Sport will have LIVE coverage of both.

That’s the shameless plug over with.

Where’s Mkhitaryan?

17:05: Unai Emery was reluctant to discuss the reasons behind Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s absence.

Diplomatic tensions exist between Azerbaijan and Mkhitaryan’s native Armenia following a long-standing conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

This can lead to visa issues for Armenians, although there are often exceptions made for sportsmen and entertainers.

However, Arsenal did not look into the application process for Mkhitaryan and instead were happy for the player to remain in London.

The 29-year-old did not travel to face Azerbaijan Premier League side Gabala while with Borussia Dortmund in 2015, although he was told by UEFA that he would be granted a visa if we wished to make the journey.

It is expected he would have again had no trouble in entering Azerbaijan this time around, had Arsenal opted to complete the process.

“He cannot travel here,” Emery said. “We are here, the players with the best mentality and preparation and possibility to play tomorrow.”

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: REUTERS)

Ch-ch-ch-changes

16:55: I think the ‘ch-ch-ch-changes’ headline is getting old too, but until I think of something mildly amusing we’re stuck with it.

Moving swiftly on, Unai Emery has made a whopping NINE changes for tonight’s Europa League showdown with Qarabag.

Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal are the only survivors from Saturday’s 2-0 win over Watford at the Emirates Stadium – the Spaniard is captain.

Elsewhere there is plenty of pace and creativity with Danny Welbeck leading the line, and flanked by Alex Iwobi and Emile Smith-Rowe.

It looks like Emery is going with a 3-4-3 of Monreal, Sokratis and Rob Holding as the centre-back partnership with Lichtsteiner and Kolasinac the wing-backs.

Twitter round-up

Dupree: Wow, look at our bench! Martinez, Bellerin, Mustafi, Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil, Lacazette… we have proper strength in depth these days!

Phil: Looks like most of our first team are being rested which begs the question: why make them travel!? Also interesting to see Unai Emery try three at the back albeit against a much weaker opposition!

Nick: Great to see Sokratis and Holding start together – that’s my preferred pairing at this moment. Mustafi just isn’t good enough.

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: REUTERS)

Arsenal line-up…

16:45: Three cheers for Arsenal for providing the starting XI nice and early… I’m perhaps the only person on earth who gets excited about things like that. Yes, I need to get a life.

A quick glance tells me that Unai Emery has made plenty of changes with Sead Kolasinac, Danny Welbeck and Emile Smith Rowe in the line-up.

Qarabag XI: Vagner, Medvedev, Huseynov, Rzezniczak, Agolli, Madatov, Michel, Garayev, Zoubir, Ozobic, Emeghara

Subs: Halldorsson, Mammadov, Slavchev, Abdullayev, Delarge, Huseynov, Diniyev.

Arsenal XI: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Sokratis, Monreal, Elneny, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Smith Rowe, Kolasinac, Welbeck.

Subs: Matinez, Bellerin, Lacazette, Ozil, Torreira, Mustafi, Xhaka.

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: GETTY)

Afternoon…

16:40: Hello everyone, and welcome to our LIVE coverage of the Europa League.

This illustrious (I’m feeling generous) competition continues this evening with British quartet Arsenal, Celtic, Chelsea and Rangers all looking to navigate their way through the group stages.

Unai Emery’s Gunners make the trip to Azerbaijan, while Chelsea host Hungarian outfit MOL Vidi at Stamford Bridge.

On paper, this should be a routine evening for the Premier League pair – but football isn’t played on paper said my cliché-filled Under-16 coach.

OK, that’s the trip down memory lane covered. Let’s have the team news and line-ups.

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage

Qarabag vs Arsenal: Express Sport brings you LIVE Europa League coverage (Image: GETTY)

Qarabag vs Arsenal

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss Arsenal’s Europa League match against Qarabag in Baku after the club opted to leave him in London.

The forward did not make the trip to Azerbaijan due to diplomatic tensions between the country and Mkhitaryan’s native Armenia.

While Unai Emery decided to bring an experienced squad, Petr Cech (hamstring) is out for a month, Aaron Ramsey asked to stay at home as his wife is due to give birth and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ill. Ainsley Maitland-Niles (leg), Laurent Koscielny (Achilles) and Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin) also remained at home.

Arsenal provisional squad: Leno, Martinez, Bellerin, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Mustafi, Papastathopoulos, Monreal, Xhaka, Elneny, Torreira, Guendouzi, Smith Rowe, Iwobi, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette, Nketiah.

Source

NO COMMENTS