Pre-Match Report

Arsenal v Red Star Belgrade: The Brief

Five wins in five games in the Europa League and Carabao Cup suggests that Arsene Wenger has got his rotation policy spot on.

The manager has effectively been fielding two separate teams across three competitions this season and on Thursday night it’s the turn of Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott et al to link up with our most promising youngsters.
It’s proved a potent mix so far - and three more points against Red Star Belgrade will take us through to the knockout stage with two matches to spare.
You’re in the right place for a comprehensive pre-match briefing. There’s team news, classic goals, an exclusive chat with the boss, match facts and a chance to test your knowledge.

Arsène Wenger on Rob Holding


Jack Wilshere made his name in the academy ranks as an attacking midfielder - often as a No 10 - but once he broke into our first team he found himself in a deeper role in the engine room. This season, in our new system, his role has been tweaked again.
“In my head he’s more a player who plays higher up the pitch,” explained Wenger. “I see him more as a player who can affect the game in the final third than a box-to-box player. I see him more as somebody who has a quick response, quick reactions in the final third and the quality of the pass in the final third.
“I think the new system suits him. Because for me he is in the position between wide and completely central, or in that area behind the midfield. Because he turns the game forward well, he can chip a little ball, he can pass people in the short space. That’s why I think the system suits him well. He’s a little bit in conflict in this position with Ozil and Alexis.” 

Jack Wilshere


ARSENAL: Mustafi (thigh), Welbeck (hamstring), Ospina (groin), Cazorla (plantaris), Kolasinac (hip)
RED STAR: Rodic (suspended) 


Tactical expert Michael Cox on Red Star:

"There’s a potential weakness at left-back, because Milan Rodic was dismissed in Belgrade for two bookable offences. Marko Gobeljic was introduced immediately afterwards to fill that role – and he’d also started there in the 1-0 victory over Cologne.

"However, he’s right-footed and predominantly plays at right-back or in midfield, so might be uncomfortable if opponents attempt to go down the outside."


“Criticism is most of the time based on the performance of the day. People are always tempted to say that what happened on the day is definite, but it’s not like that. Life is about you, how you want to change things and the way we’ve responded in the last three games shows that we have the needed strength to respond to every situation we face in a game.
“You always have a game or two in the season where it looks like you don’t have the quality that everybody wants, but it’s always down to you to respond well.”

Matchday Show promo: Red Star (h)

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