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How Arsenal could line up against Molde

Sports Mole looks at how Arsenal could line up for their Europa League showdown with Molde on Thursday evening.

Arsenal will endeavour to confirm qualification for the Europa League knockout stages on Thursday when they travel to Norway to take on Molde in Group B.

The Gunners sit three points clear at the top of the rankings with their 100% record still intact, and should Rapid Vienna fail to take all three points against Dundalk on matchday four, Arsenal's top-two finish will be guaranteed so long as they prevail at the Aker Stadion.

However, Mikel Arteta's men have struggled to perform in the Premier League and go into this game following a 0-0 draw with Leeds United - in which the Gunners were dominated throughout the entire game - although Arsenal still did well to come away with a point after Nicolas Pepe was given his marching orders early on in the second half.

Injuries and positive coronavirus tests will force Arteta's hand for several of his selections on Thursday, and here, Sports Mole looks at how Arsenal could line up against Molde.



POSS ARS XI vs. MOL

Out: Bukayo Saka (knee), Willian (muscle), Mohamed Elneny, Sead Kolasinac (both coronavirus), Calum Chambers (fitness), Gabriel Martinelli (knee), Pablo Mari (ankle), Thomas Partey (thigh)
Doubtful: None

> Click here for Arsenal's latest injury and suspension news ahead of this match

Arsenal's ever-growing injury list welcomed a couple more names in the draw at Elland Road - with Liverpool the only Premier League side who currently have more players in the treatment room - as Willian and Bukayo Saka were both forced off against Leeds.

Arteta was always expected to shuffle the pack for the Europa League and that is not set to change here, although the Gunners boss has very little to choose from in some areas of the pitch.

Pepe admitted he let his team down after he was sent off for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski at the weekend, and while the 25-year-old is not suspended for the Europa League, it would be a surprise to see Arteta welcome him back to the starting lineup so soon.

As a result, Gunners fans could look forward to seeing Emile Smith Rowe handed his first senior start of the campaign on the left-hand side, and a youthful attack is likely to be completed by Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah, although Alexandre Lacazette is battling for a start after being benched at Elland Road.

With Partey confirmed to be missing out through injury and Elneny testing positive for COVID-19, the midfield pairing of Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos is likely to remain the same, although Arsenal are expected to name a number of changes in defence.

Bernd Leno should retain his place in goal despite pressure from Runar Alex Runarsson, while Hector Bellerin, who nearly provided a brilliant assist for the winner at Elland Road only to see Saka's effort saved, is likely to cede his place at right-back to Cedric Soares.

David Luiz missed out the goalless stalemate with the Whites due to the birth of his child but should be back for this one, while the return of Shkodran Mustafi in defence will give Rob Holding and Gabriel the night off ahead of a crunch match with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.

Kieran Tierney had to be dragged away by his teammates following a confrontation with Alioski after the final whistle at the weekend, and with the left-back due a rest here anyway, Ainsley Maitland-Niles is in line to start against Molde, with Sead Kolasinac recently returning a positive coronavirus test.

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Who will win Thursday's Europa League clash between Molde and Arsenal?

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta pictured on November 22, 2020
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