Leno to Make Arsenal Debut in Europa League Opener

Sergio Cunningham
September 23, 2018

Smith-Rowe has since established himself as a crucial player for the U23 side, scoring two goals in four Premier League 2 appearances and also finding the net in the EFL Trophy victory over Coventry - which suggests he is ready for the step up to senior football.

Vorskla Poltava will be facing English opposition for the first time in their history, while Arsenal have won four times, drawn four games and lost on four occasions against Ukrainian teams. Instead, they will be playing in the Europa League, starting on Thursday night against PAOK in Greece.

The ex-Sevilla boss, three times a Europa League victor as a coach, is hopeful of maintaining the positive atmosphere at Emirates Stadium, which disappeared at times during the latter stages of Arsene Wenger's tenure.

Chelsea are no longer a side that looks to compete exclusively with the chequebook.

The Gunners reached the Europa League semi-finals last term before a 2-1 aggregate loss to Atletico Madrid. "We haven't come here just for a stroll in the park, we understand that Arsenal are the favourites but nevertheless our team is capable of pulling off this feat".

Live coverage of Arsenal vs Vorskla Poltava will be shown on BT Sport 2 in the United Kingdom, with the broadcast beginning at immediately after Chelsea's trip to PAOK, at approximately 7pm.

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery.

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Three consecutive wins with Sevilla between 2014-16 propelled the new Arsenal boss into a prestigious bracket as only himself and the legendary manager Giovanni Trapattoni have won Europe's second string tournament three times and Emery could be the catalyst needed at the Gunners to help them pick up their first European trophy this century. After the Champions League, the Europa League is the most important competition.

After all, Arsenal were wretched for most of a year ago but still reached the Europa League semi-finals.

On their first European match of the season, "Vorskla" went without defender Oleksandr Chyzhov and midfielder Denis Vasin.

Emery is expected to hand £22 million (S$39.7 million) summer transfer Bernd Leno his goalkeeping debut, while fellow close-season signings Stephan Lichtsteiner and Lucas Torreira are in line for their first starts.

Current No1 Petr Cech has been criticised in recent weeks for his distribution, with the 36-year-old looking uncomfortable playing short passes and having the ball at his feet.

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

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