Arsenal’s eight-match unbeaten run (all competitions) came to an abrupt end at Sheffield, but there’s no time feeling sorry for ourselves as Portuguese side Vitória Guimarães is at the Emirates for our Europa League group match.
This is a fixture between sides at opposite ends of Group F. The Gunners at the top after two wins from their two games, the visitors are winless, goalless and rooted at the bottom following their two.
League form and Monday night’s disappointment aside, Arsenal has performed proficiently in the cup competitions; notably in Europa where we’ve scored seven goals without reply. And as Gooners we do a closer eye on these games because Unai Emery uses it to give exciting youngsters, fringe players and those returning from long-term injuries a run-out as they continue their comeback. Nearly all these players used have made telling contributions to stake claims for league spots where we have been very inconsistent.
A glance at Vitoria’s form show that despite their poor showings in the Europa they have won their last three Primeira Liga fixtures. So while they will be well aware of the Gunners’ earlier group results as well as their own, they wouldn’t necessarily be short of confidence. However, they’re likely to adopt a conservative approach by sitting back to frustrate us and try make the most of the few chances they may get; noting how well that strategy worked for the Blades on Monday night.
Reiss Nelson is the only injury concern as Emery is expected to stick with his ‘cup team’. At this point it truly is anybody’s guess whether Mesut Özil would play due to “out of favour”? And I’m thinking here about the “wallahi…” chants the away end at Sheffield directed toward the dugout that may not have gone down well. But eh!
Arsenal are likely to find the visitors a bit tough to break down initially but as the game go on our pace and quality should crumble Vitoria’s peu de résistance.
My prediction is us going three wins from three Europa outings at the end of the night. COYG!