Arsenal set to play “Strongest XI” against BATE Borisov

The usual “getting on a plane”  pictures have been released by the club; indicating who is an who is not in the squad for the trip to Belarus to face BATE Borisov.

It is clear with the players already confirmed as making the trip that Arsenal are set to play a very strong XI.

Last season, the squad that went travelled for the Europa League group stage game was described by many as “youthful”.

The likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson all started. Whilst on the bench was Chuba Akpom, Josh Dasilva, Vlad Dragomir, Charlie Gilmour,  Matt Macey, Marcus Mcguane and Eddie Nketiah.

Alexandre Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Petr Cech, Granit Xhaka and Laurent Koscileny were amongst the senior first team professionals left at home.

Whilst the strength of the squad going out to Belarus might surprise some, their is clarity in Unai emery’s thinking.

The Europa League is a genuine winnable competition, and a path into the Champions League. Emery is taking the last realistic chance to win a trophy in his first season with Arsenal seriously.

Arsenal also do not play a game this weekend. It is FA Cup 5th round day and Arsenal are not in the competition.

So the logic is simple.

Play  a strong XI tomorrow, win 6-0 and rotate the youth in next Thursday – resting players prior to a Sunday lunch time kick off at home to Southampton.


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