Arsenal will look to register another win against Molde on Matchday 4 of UEFA Europa League
By Neeladri Bhattacharjee
Arsenal may not have a desired win over Bielsa’s Leeds in the last match, but they will be desperate to avoid any upsets in the Europa League this year. The UEFA Europa League resumes with Matchday 4 as Arsenal face Molde on Thursday.
Mikel Arteta has worked well on youth development as Willock, Nelson, Saka and Maitland-Niles have all responded to opportunities well. But watching Arsenal’s former manager Unai Emery help Villarreal to the third position in La Liga while the Gunners sit eleventh in their league, must sting the English side.
Current league positions:
🟡 Unai Emery’s Villarreal — 3rd
🔴 Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal — 11th
Put some respect on Unai’s name. 🤫 pic.twitter.com/fn5DqwfyTo
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 22, 2020
However, the squad has injuries too, meaning, they will be short of their total strength on Thursday. Unavailability of Willian will give Pepe another chance to mend the “episode” at Elland Road. But the Gunners have enough depth in defence to shrug off injury problems at the back.
Arteta will look to rotate his squad too – they meet Wolves four days later at home. As a result, Xhaka, Ceballos and Willock are most likely to form the midfield triangle. David Luiz, Rob Holding will provide a neat mix of experience and muscle while Cedric Soares and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will cover the flanks.
On the left wing, Arteta may play Bukayo Saka. The 19-year-old Englishman will look to cement his position further as Arteta looks resolute in not giving Ozil any serious chance again in the squad. The attack, as usual, will be led by the Gabonese hitman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Molde desperate for silverware
Molde, the Norweigian giants have their reasons to be desperate to win as well. The defending 4-time Eliteserien Champions lost the title race to Bodo/Glimt this year and will try their best to cling on to hopes of a silverware.
On paper, Arsenal look a better team than Molde, but if the Norwegian outfit can pull an “Olympiakos” at home, Arteta may find the blade hanging over his job. Arsenal are undefeated in the Europa League until now, while Molde has lost just one match in their last 10 games – that was against Arsenal.
Erling Moe’s side will fight an uphill battle with right back Kristoffer Haraldseid off with cruciate ligament rupture. Birk Risa, Martin Bjornbak and Ohi Omoijuanfo are all doubtful as well.
Sheriff Sinyan is most likely to pally with Stigan Gregersen as centre backs while Fredrik Aursnes and Etzaz Hussain will play the “Xhaka-Ceballos” role. The captain Magnus Wolff Eikrem will play the No.10 role while Leke James will head the attack.
Formations and Predicted Line-ups:
Mikel Arteta has used the double pivot system so well that Elneny has looked better than Paul Pogba at times! As a result, the Spaniard is expected to go with the same yet again against Molde, with Aubameyang up front – a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Emiliano Martinez left Emirates for lack of opportunities. The only team Arsenal lost to in their last five games was to Aston Villa – Martinez’s current team. Mikel, therefore, may prefer resting Leno to keep his reserve keepers happy. Europa League group stage, top of the table – this is the perfect moment to start the former Dijon FC keeper Runar Alex Runarsson.
Location: Aker Stadium, Molde
Time: 11:25 pm (IST)
TV Listing: Sony LIV, Sony Ten 2