Arsenal host Molde FK in the Europa League on Thursday evening.
We’re getting into a rhythm now: feeling out our Premier League groove on Sunday and following it up with midweek European action on a Thursday. It’s a routine Arsenal have been used to in the past few seasons, but have failed to strike an appropriate balance with.
At this stage of the competition, we see squad depth play its part. Barring the occasional difference, usually due to injury, it essentially boils down to Arsenal A and Arsenal B.
Welcoming Molde FK to the Emirates in the third round of the Europa League group stages, victory could prompt Mikel Arteta to start employing something more closely resembling Arsenal C for the remainder of the group.
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Sitting pretty atop the league with six points, depending on how results go, the Gunners could open up a lead of eight points from those in third spot. With a B-list squad available for the Europa League, it would be great to see some of the academy stars get the chance to shine at some stage if qualification is all-but wrapped up.
The above being a mindset Arteta can employ if Arsenal see off their nearest challengers for top spot in Group B.
Molde were just goal difference away from being in the Champions League this term, and they aren’t expected to go piling forward for victory on Thursday knowing they can maintain breathing space between themselves and Rapid Vienna/Dundalk with a valuable point.
Victory isn’t assured by any means, and while Arteta will ring the changes for the first UEFA meeting between Arsenal and the Norwegian side, the same attitude must carry over from the most recent European victory.
Here’s how Arteta is expected to line his side up.