Arsenal vs S.L. Benfica: Predicted Line-up
ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 18: Bukayo Saka of Arsenal scores their sides first goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match between SL Benfica and Arsenal FC at Stadio Olimpico on February 18, 2021 in Rome, Italy. SL Benfica face Arsenal FC at a neutral venue in Rome behind closed doors after Portugal imposed a ban on travellers arriving from the UK in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19 variants. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Arsenal will look to secure their place in the Europa League round of 16 with a win against S.L. Benfica at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Greece on Thursday night.

The Gunners were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico in the first leg of the tie, with Pizzi and Bukayo Saka the goalscorers. 

  • Defence

Bernd Leno - The German shot-stopper is Arsenal's number one and with Mikel Arteta placing huge emphasis on Thursday's game, his inclusion is unquestionable. 

Cedric Soares - The Portuguese right-back has impressed whilst covering at left-back so far this season, although his primary position is on the right hand side and deserves a starting berth ahead of Héctor Bellerín

David Luiz - The former Chelsea man has been on the wrong end of individual errors this season but has, by and large, performed well when called upon and should retain his place against Benfica. 

Gabriel Magalhães - The Brazilian has been one of Arsenal's most consistent performers since his summer arrival from Lille and will partner Luiz well as the centre-back pairing. 

Kieran Tierney - The flying Scotsman is one of Arsenal's main attacking outlets. Tierney has been a huge miss for the Gunners in his month-long absence and must retain his place in Arsenal's back line on Thursday night. 

  • Midfield

Granit Xhaka - Despite being a polarising figure within the Arsenal fan-base, Xhaka has performed at a consistently high level this season and helps keep the Gunners midfield ticking in possession. 

Thomas Partey - The summer signing from La Liga outfit Atlético Madrid is a Rolls Royce of a midfielder. Press-resistant and comfortable in possession, Partey's return will be a welcome addition for Arteta against Benfica. 

Emile Smith Rowe - Despite Martin Ødegaard impressing since his arrival on loan from Real Madrid, Hale End graduate Smith Rowe deserves a chance to shine in one of Arsenal's biggest games of the season. His movement off the ball and intricate passing will help break down Benfica's defensive low block. 

  • Forwards

Bukayo Saka - Arsenal's outstanding player of the season, Saka has played his best football at right-wing this season, registering five goals and two assists from ten games when playing in that position. The 19-year-old scored Arsenal's only goal in the first leg against Benfica and must therefore keep his place.

Nicolas Pépé - Although he has not yet found his best form, Pépé is more than capable of unlocking Benfica's defensive structure by taking on defenders and dragging them out of position. The Ivorian has arguably  played his best football in the Europa League and should be given a chance on Thursday. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - Arsenal's captain will be disappointed with his performance against Benfica in the first leg as he should have scored a hat trick. Despite inconsistent form this season, the Gabon international is still the Gunners' best striker and should get the nod ahead of Alexandre Lacazette

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