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Preview: Arsenal vs. Vorskla Poltava - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Thursday's Europa League clash between Arsenal and Vorskla Poltava.

Arsenal's journey in the 2018-19 Europa League will start on Thursday night, with the Gunners welcoming Ukrainian outfit Vorskla Poltava to the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal reached the semi-finals of the competition last season before losing to Atletico Madrid and are the overwhelming favourites to beat a team that finished third in the Ukrainian Premier League last season.


Unai Emery points a finger during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Manchester City on August 12, 2018© Reuters

Arsenal's European journey in the post-Arsene Wenger era begins with a home match against Ukrainian outfit Vorskla on Thursday night. It is not the European competition that the Gunners would have wanted to be operating in this season, but that is the case following their sixth-placed finish in the Premier League last term.

Arsenal had been ever-presents in the Champions League for 19 successive seasons until last term. The capital outfit reached the semi-finals of last season's Europa League, but could not find a route past Spanish giants Atletico, who ultimately won the competition by overcoming Marseille in the final.

The Gunners lost at home to Ostersunds in the Europa League last term, but did win four of their seven fixtures on home soil. Arsenal are also unbeaten against Ukrainian opposition in front of their own supporters, winning four of five such matches in the Champions League.

Thursday will be the first meeting between Arsenal and Vorskla in European competition, but the Premier League outfit have previously faced Ukrainian opposition in the shape of Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev - winning four, losing four and drawing two of those fixtures.

Arsenal made a shaky start to the 2018-19 campaign under the leadership of Emery, with the capital outfit losing their first two matches to Manchester City and Chelsea.

The Gunners have won their last three in the Premier League, however - beating West Ham United, Cardiff City and Newcastle United - and will be eyeing a fourth straight victory on Thursday night.

Arsenal should have no problems making their way through a section which also includes Sporting Lisbon and Qarabag as they look to advance deep into the Europa League once again.

Recent form: WWDDL
Recent form (all competitions): LLWWW


As mentioned above, Vorskla secured their spot in this season's Europa League having managed to finish third in the Ukrainian Premier League last season. The position represented their joint-highest final placing, matching their achievement from the 1996-97 campaign, which brought European football to the club for the first time.

This season will represent the club's seventh European campaign, and they have previously competed in the group stages of the Europa League. That occurred during the 2011-12 season, but they picked up just two points to finish bottom of the section.

Vorskla lost heavily at Shakhtar in the league last month, but have won three of their last four domestic fixtures, including a 1-0 win away to Karpaty at the weekend to move onto 12 points in the division.

Vasyl Sachko's side will be more than aware of their underdog status entering the match, but will feel that they have a chance of finishing second in a section which also includes Sporting Lisbon and Qarabag.

Vorskla's European away record leaves a lot to be desired, however, with the Ukrainian club currently on a run of five games without a win on their travels. Arsenal will not relish travelling to Vorskla later in the competition, but the Gunners will be the overwhelming favourites to collect all three points this week.

Vorskla's next Europa League match after this one is at home to Sporting Lisbon early next month, and their form in Ukraine will be key in determining how the club performs in Europe during the 2018-19 campaign.

Recent form: LLWDL
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWW

Team News

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette celebrate Arsenal's second goal against West Ham United on August 25, 2018© Reuters

Arsenal are still without the services of Laurent Koscielny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, while Sead Kolasinac and Alex Iwobi could again miss out for the Gunners.

There could be a spot between the sticks for summer arrival Bernd Leno, who has had to be patient this season. Meanwhile, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Lucas Torreira and Mohamed Elneny should also come into the XI.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are both expected to keep their spots in the team, however, as they continue to build their partnership in the final third of the field.

As for the visitors, on-loan Gremio forward Nicolas Careca should again lead the line for the Ukrainian outfit.

There is also expected to be a spot in the XI for Brazilian defender Artur, while Vladyslav Kulach, who has been borrowed from Shakhtar, should shake off a knock to start for Vorskla in the English capital.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Torreira, Elneny; Welbeck, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Vorskla possible starting lineup:
Shust; Perduta, Dallku, Chesnakov, Artur; Kobakhidze, Sharpar, Sklyar, Rebenok; Kulach; Careca

Head To Head

As mentioned above, Thursday will be the first ever meeting between Arsenal and Vorskla.

It will also be the first time that Vorskla have faced English opposition, but Arsenal have taken on Ukrainian sides Shakhtar and Dynamo Kiev on 10 occasions - winning four, drawing two and losing four of those matches.

Arsenal's last home game against Ukrainian opposition was against Shakhtar in the group stages of the 2010-11 Champions League, and the Gunners recorded a 5-1 win.

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We say: Arsenal 3-0 Vorskla

It is extremely difficult to make a case for the away side on Thursday night. Arsenal will be full of confidence following three straight wins, and we fancy them to run out routine winners at the Emirates Stadium.

Who will win Thursday's Europa League clash in London?

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Alexandre Lacazette in action for Arsenal on August 25, 2018
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