Arsenal vs Red Star Belgrade Preview: Gunners looking to book their passage through Group H

Arsene Wenger's side will be looking to maintain their 100% record in the group stage so far when they welcome the Serbian outfit to the Emirates on Thursday night.

Arsenal vs Red Star Belgrade Preview: Gunners looking to book their passage through Group H
Late drama last time round (Image by GettyImages/Srdjan Stevanovic)

Arsenal will look to book their place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night, when they welcome Serbian side, Red Star Belgrade to North London.

A win will be enough for Arsenal to qualify from Group H with two games to spare, and would put them in a superior position to top the group also.

Though, as last time out proved, it will be a tricky encounter for the Gunners, as Arsène Wenger's side grabbed a late 1-0 victory in Belgrade a fortnight ago, courtesy of Olivier Giroud's wonder goal.

100% record

The Gunners have soared to three wins in three games so far in their Europa League campaign. Even though Arsenal were expected to breeze through a group contested with the likes of 1. FC Köln, BATE Borisov and Red Star Belgrade, Wenger's team have gone about their business in a very professional manner.

It has also been a fantastic feat for Wenger and his side, as the Frenchman has decided to blood through a fairly young side in each game so far.

The likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock have featured heavily throughout so far, with the young stars of Arsenal doing Wenger and the club proud thus far.

 

Finish the job off?

Wenger will be desperate for his team to book their place in the next round of the competition on Thursday evening, as the games are beginning to pile up for the Gunners at this present moment.

Games against Köln away and BATE at home towards the end of November and early December are still to come for Arsenal in this group, as well as a Carabao Cup quarter-final and an introduction of a flurry of midweek Premier League fixtures.

So it would be more than ideal if the Gunners can secure their passage through the group this week, in order to tick one priority off the list, and then solely focus on the league from here till the New Year.

Boisterous Belgrade

If Arsenal think they're going to have it all their own way on Thursday night, then they can think again.

The previous clash a couple of weeks back proved that Belgrade are anything but a pushover, and the Serbian side will be as stubborn and energetic as they were the first time round.

Though, the Gunners will not have to face the hostile environment and atmosphere that welcomed them a fortnight ago out in Serbia. But credit where credit is due, Wenger's young side that night handled the occasion impeccably well, showing a lot of maturity on youthful shoulders.

Red Star are level on points with second placed BATE, and a win for them at the Emirates on Thursday night would be massive for their aspirations of getting out of Group H.

 

Team news

Wenger confirmed at Wednesday afternoon's press conference that Skhodran Mustafi, Danny Welbeck, David Ospina and Calum Chambers will still be unavailable for the Gunners.

Sead Kolasinac also looks set to miss out at the Emirates as the Bosnian looks to shake off a knock suffered in Saturday's 2-1 home win against Swansea City.

Star players such as Mesut Özil, Alexis Sánchez, Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny look likely to sit out of the match again, with Sunday's trip to Manchester City in mind.

As for Belgrade, they will be without full-back Milan Rodic, after he was sent off when the two sides met a fortnight ago.