Europa League preview: Arsenal v Vorskla as Unai Emery confirms Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah in 18-man squad

PUBLISHED: 09:28 20 September 2018

Arsenal starlet Emile Smith-Rowe. PA

Arsenal starlet Emile Smith-Rowe. PA


Unai Emery’s Arsenal are set to embark on a spell of four home games in nine days as he attempts to build on a promising run of form.

Arsenal's Bernd Leno during the pre-season friendly match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.Arsenal's Bernd Leno during the pre-season friendly match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

The Gunners host FC Vorskla at the Emirates on Thursday, before taking on Everton in North London on Sunday. They then entertain Brentford in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday, before rounding off four home matches in a row with Watford at Arsenal a week on Saturday.

Emery has confirmed Bernd Leno will make his debut. The 26-year-old Leno, who signed from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer for a fee in the region of £19 million had been expected to start the campaign as the No1 choice but has yet to play a minute so far.

Emery has instead selected veteran Cech this term while implementing a new tactical style which involves playing the ball out from the back.

However the former Spartak Moscow boss revealed Leno will play, saying: “Leno is going to play in the starting XI.

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery. PAArsenal head coach Unai Emery. PA

“In our planning for the goalkeeper, we spoke with Javi Garcia, the goalkeeper coach, and we need to give Leno the chances to get some minutes.

“The quality for the goalkeeper is confidence and he has that.

“He is going to start and he can go a long way here in Arsenal. He is young and he is here because he showed us his quality.”

Emery also confirmed that U23 starlets Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah will be in his 18-man squad after the Islington Gazette questioned him on the pair.

Stephan Lichsteiner has been speaking ahead of the Europa League. CREDIT @laythy29Stephan Lichsteiner has been speaking ahead of the Europa League. CREDIT @laythy29

Stephan Lichsteiner, Danny Welbeck and Mohamed Elneny are all in contention to start against the Ukrainians.

In winning the UEFA Europa League in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16, Emery shares the record for the most UEFA Cup/Europa League titles with Italian Giovanni Trapattoni. Emery is the only manager to win the trophy in three consecutive seasons.

Vorskla are appearing in only their second Europa League campaign. In their first, they claimed only two points from six group stages matches, netting just four goals.

While four successive home matches is rare, during the 1987-88 season under George Graham the Gazette was present at all seven consecutive Highbury home games between February 13 1988 and March 19, 1988.

Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah (pic Paul Harding/PA)Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah (pic Paul Harding/PA)

The spell included a 2-1 victory over Luton Town, the unforgettable 2-1 win over Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round in which Brian McClair missed a penalty in front of a heaving North Bank in a crowd of 54,000 which observers recall as one of thee most passionate atmosphere’s at the grand old ground during that decade.

Three days later Everton were beaten 3-1 in the second leg of the Littlewoods Cup semi-final in front of 51,000 packed onto the terraces. The extraordinary run of home games also included Charlton, Spurs, Nottingham Forest and Newcastle.

The Gunners beat Newcastle United 2-1 at St James’ Park on Saturday to notch their third win on the bounce and the second successive triumph on the road, following their 3-2 victory at Cardiff City prior to easing past West Ham 3-1 to kick-start their season last month.

Follow Arsenal reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29

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