Red Star Belgrade vs Arsenal Preview: Gunners hoping to return to winning ways in Europe

Arsenal travel to Serbia for game week three of the Europa League

Red Star Belgrade vs Arsenal Preview: Gunners hoping to return to winning ways in Europe
Olivier Giroud has been preferred to Alexandre Lacazette in this season's Europa League | Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal are back in Europa League action on Thursday as they travel to Serbia to play Red Star Belgrade

The Gunners have won their opening two games of the competition, defeating Koln and BATE Borisov so will looking for a win that takes them a step closer to the knock out stages.

Arsenal aiming to bounce back 

Before the international break Arsene Wenger's men were in brilliant form but now they find themselves coming into this game off the back of an extremely disappointing result against Watford

The Gunners went 1-0 up before conceding a Troy Deeney penalty, and then allowed Tom Cleverley to fire home late on as they lost the game.

However it's likely the side that has traveled to Serbia will be vastly different to those who played against the Hornets.

Red Star will be a different proposition and unlike Watford will probably sit back and allow Arsenal to come at them. The Gunners will therefore have to remain patient, and take confidence from their previous Europa League game when they put in an assured attacking display in Belarus. 

Youth and fringe the way forward 

Wenger has so far decided to blend his side with youth and experience and that isn't expected to change when they travel to Belgrade. The Frenchman has decided to give a host of fringe players the chance to impress, and one of those is Jack Wilshere.

His performances, especially against BATE have been convincing and he is expected to start again. Reiss Nelson has benefited from Europa League action this season and could be in line to play from the off.

Meanwhile the likes of Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles who have featured in the opening two game weeks will probably be given more game time. 

Theo Walcott is another of the fringe players who is likely to start. He scored twice against BATE in the side's last Europa League tie and will look to push his case for starting in the league. 

The opposition

Red Star currently sit top of the Serbian SuperLiga, three points clear of Partizan and come into this is game off the back of a 4-0 victory at the weekend. 

They came through the play-offs in order to qualify for this year's Europa League, and are currently unbeaten in the competition following a 1-1 draw with BATE, and a 1-0 win over Koln in their opening matches.

The club's only two meetings with Arsenal came in 1978 when the pair were drawn together in the group stages of the UEFA Cup. The Gunners have yet to beat them however, losing 1-0 and drawing 1-1 in those two games.

Team news

Aaron Ramsey has returned to full training ahead of the clash in Serbia, and could return to the team. Meanwhile Alexis Sanchez could be in line to play after missing the trip to Watford. 

Danny Welbeck missed training on Wednesday, but the likes of Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka, Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac and Olivier Giroud all trained. Therefore the squad may well be stronger compared to Arsenal's previous Europa League matches this season. 

Despite that a host of youngsters joined in first team training before flying out to Serbia. Eddie Nketiah has traveled with the side, whilst Jordi Osei-Tutu has been given his first senior call-up. There could also be a place in the squad for Marcus McGuane who came off the bench against BATE. 

As for Red Star, midfielder Guelor Kanga is likely to miss the game through injury. Meanwhile forward Richmond Boakye who has been linked with Chelsea, Celtic and Everton will be one for the Gunners defence to keep a close eye on.