Arsenal make their return to European football on Thursday night, travelling to Switzerland to face off against FC Zürich. A disappointing eighth place finish in the 2020/21 league campaign meant Gunners’ fans had to deal with their first season without European action for 26 years.
However, Arsenal fans will feel optimistic about their chances in this season’s Europa League, given their promising start to their domestic campaign. Beating FC Zürich will not be an easy task; the Swiss champions won the league by a dominant 14 points last season. Despite this, their form in the Swiss league so far is worrying; they are winless with just two points from seven games.
FC Zürich will only have two absences from this clash. Ilan Sauter and Bohdan Viunnyk both look likely to miss their Europa League opener.
Swiss Goalkeeper Yanick Brecher has only missed one game in all competitions this season. He will most likely continue this stretch against Arsenal, and will hope to pull off a shock result for the club he has been at since the academy.
Zürich's back three will need to be at their very best to ensure a positive result for the home side. The trio of Fidan Aliti, Mirlind Kryezui, and Lindrit Kamberi have played together the most, and will be hoping to keep Arsenal quiet in front of goal.
Two new names have joined the injured trio of Reiss Nelson, Thomas Partey, and Mohamed Elneny in the Arsenal treatment room. Emile Smith Rowe, who came off the bench in the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United, has not been training for the last few days, according to Mikel Arteta. He felt discomfort in an area that has been causing him trouble for the last few weeks, so is not in the squad.
Cedric also missed training on Wednesday, with several young players, such as Lino Sousa, Amario Cozier-Duberry, Matt Smith and Catalin Cirijan called up to cover. Fabio Vieria and Marquinhos look set to make their first starts for Arsenal.
Matt Turner will most likely be given the nod in the Arsenal net for his competitive debut. The Australian is already a popular figure throughout the Arsenal faithful; he refused to sign a Tottenham Hotspur shirt after the announcement of his transfer.
FC Zürich (3-4-1-2)
Brecher; Aliti, Kryezui, Kamberi; Guerrero, Selnæs, Džemali, Boranijašević; Avdijaj; Rohner, Santini
Turner; Tierney, Holding, Saliba, White; Xhaka, Smith; Martinelli, Vieira, Marquinhos; Nketiah
FC Zurich - Fabian Rohner
Fabian Rohner was the hero in Zürich’s play off second leg against Hearts. With the Swiss side already leading 2-1 on aggregate, he put the tie to bed with ten minutes to go, scoring the only goal of the game to negate any chance of a comeback.
So far this season, he has two goals and two assists in all competitions, but has spent the majority of the league games sat on the bench. Favoured in the European and cup games, the Swiss attacker has the perfect opportunity to show why he should be starting.
There was a lot of hype and excitement from the Arsenal faithful when the club announced the signing of the promising Portuguese number 10 from Porto in the summer transfer market. However, his opportunities so far have been limited, given Martin Ødegaard’s impressive form, and an injury that he has only just recovered from.
Now fully fit, and off the back of a promising 15 minute cameo at the weekend, the game against Zürich offers Vieria the perfect opportunity to exemplify his promise to the Arsenal faithful.
Where is the game being played?
The game is being played at Stadion Letzigrund, situated in Zürich, Switzerland.
What time is kick-off?
FC Zürich vs Arsenal will kick off at 17:45 BST on Thursday 8th September.
How can I watch?
Viewers in the United Kingdom can catch the action on BT Sport 2, with coverage starting at 17:15 BST ahead of kick off.