Arsenal’s season is hanging in the balance and it all comes down to tonight’s Europa League showdown against Benfica.
With the campaign in the Premier League being disappointing, the continental competition can serve as a saving grace for Mikel Arteta’s side and a route back into the Champions League.
A 1-1 draw in the first leg last week means that there is still everything to play for this evening, as Arsenal look to seal their spot in the next round.
One player who could prove to be decisive is Alexandre Lacazette, the Gunners’ top-scorer this season, and fans have noticed a bizarre change from the Frenchman.
Predominantly blue, the boots feature a minion from the Despicable Me film franchise alongside a message that reads ‘trust the process’.
While the inclusion of a minion is bizarre enough, supporters have also been debating the meaning behind the wording also shown.
Arsenal fans have regularly called for their fellow supporters to trust in the process of Mikel Arteta and Edu, who have encountered a significant rebuilding job at the Emirates Stadium.
Lacazette may not be part of the plans long-term, as he has entered the final 18 months of his contract and could be sold this summer in order to receive a fee for his services rather than lose him on a free transfer at the end of next season.
However, the Frenchman’s boots may indicate that he sees his future in north London and, like the fans, is also placing his trust in the project that is currently underway.
facts about arsenal vs benefica match
The Gunners have a near-full squad of options to choose from for once, with just Rob Holding confirmed as missing.
Alex Runarsson isn’t available after the club decided to remove him from their Europa League quota, adding January arrival Mat Ryan in his place.
Mikel Arteta revealed that Thomas Partey was close to returning on Wednesday, and that he would undergo a final test yesterday to find out if he could play, and Football London reports have confirmed that the midfielder has made the trip to Greece.
The Spaniard also added that the defender Holding was fine, but due to new protocols on head injuries, he has to be assessed and will miss the trip.
“Thomas is very close,” Mikel Arteta told Arsenal Media. “He’s got a final test today in training. If he’s feeling good, he will be available to play the match.
“Regarding Rob, he’s not available. He had a concussion, we tested him and he’s completely fine but obviously now we need to follow the protocols and he won’t be able to travel.”
Predicted Arsenal XI:
Bellerin Luiz Mari Tierney
Saka Smith Rowe Aubameyang
I believe that Smith Rowe was rested at the weekend with this match in mind, and his return looks highly likely in my eyes.
While I wouldn’t be shocked to see Odegaard or Pepe replace Lacazette in this line-up, I feel that Auba’s inconsistencies of late will see him return to the wider role, with the experienced Lacazette returning to the starting line-up after a break.