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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will surprisingly look to field strong starting XIs for the Europa League group stage, according to reports. English teams have often rotated for the second-tier European club competition but Arteta looks set to break the mould this season.
Arsenal begin their campaign at FC Zurich on Thursday. Arteta’s squad has already been hit with a number of injury problems to limit the Spaniard’s options.
Thomas Partey is hopeful of returning before the international break. However, Mohamed Elneny is set for several months on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Emile Smith Rowe also picked up a problem in the warm down following Sunday’s 3-1 loss at Manchester United. But despite the Gunners sitting top of the Premier League table, the Mirror claims Arteta will resist making too many changes in Europe.
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He instead views the competition as an important avenue into qualifying for the Champions League. Arteta wants to finish top of Group A in order to avoid playing a round of 32 tie and go straight into the last 16 in 2023.
Therefore he will field strong sides in an attempt to qualify as soon as possible. Eight players have started all six of Arsenal’s Premier League games so far this season.
But the majority of them are likely to feature in the early rounds of the competition at least. The fixtures are set to come thick and fast.
After the trip to Zurich, Arsenal host PSV Eindhoven the following Thursday before two matches against Norwegian side Bodo Glimt in October. The Gunners then face the return matches against PSV and Zurich in back-to-back weeks to complete the group stages.
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The competition could also be a good chance for Arteta to hand opportunities to three of his summer signings. Goalkeeper Matt Turner could deputise for Aaron Ramsdale.
Fabio Vieira made a brief cameo off the bench against United and is set to have a regular spot in the team. Young winger Marquinhos, who has been an unused substitute in the last three league matches, could also be given an opportunity.
Rob Holding is likely to be given game time in defence, with the likes of Takehiro Tomiyasu and Cedric Soares also vying for spots. But it appears Arteta is not overly keen on using untested academy players and will instead field strong XIs.
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