Arsenal team news: Expected line-up vs Rapid Vienna – Partey ready for first start

Arsenal face Rapid Vienna in their Europa League opener on Thursday – and Mikel Arteta could hand Thomas Partey his first start. Partey came off the bench for his Gunners debut late on in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, having had little time to train with his new team-mates.

But Thursday’s clash in Austria could be the ideal moment to give the Ghana international some game time after he arrived at the Emirates in a £45m deal on the final day of the transfer window.

Arsenal host Leicester City in a tough-looking Premier League showdown on Sunday, and the Rapid Vienna game would give Partey a chance to warm up rather than been thrown in cold at the weekend.

However, the 27-year-old is likely to find himself playing in a very different line-up to what he might expect in domestic combat.

Arteta will take the Europa League seriously – after all, as well as offering silverware it provides a route into next season’s Champions League.

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But Thursday’s game will also be a chance to give some game time to players wanting a chance to impress in a fairly packed fixture schedule before next month’s international break.

Bernd Leno looks set to keep his place in goal – although Runar Alex Runarsson is in the squad and it could be a chance to test out the summer signing from Dijon.

Gabriel and David Luiz are likely to retain their places in defence, and could be joined by Sead Kolasinac in place of Kierean Tierney.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles could come into the team as the left wing-back, pushing Bukayo Saka further forward to join the attack, with Hector Bellerin as right wing-back.

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Partey’s usual midfield partners are likely to be Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos, but Mohamed Elneny could get the nod to play alongside the new signing in Vienna.

And Eddie Nketiah may get a chance to lead the line, with Reiss Nelson lining up on the opposite wing to Saka.

With so many young players in line for an opportunity, Arsenal look set to have a star-studded bench which could feature Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe.

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Willian (calf) and Ceballos (ankle) have not travelled but Shkodran Mustafi is part of the group following his hamstring complaint.

Rob Holding (hamstring), Pablo Mari (ankle), Calum Chambers and Gabriel Martinelli (both knee) all miss out through injury.

Arsenal predicted line-up to face Rapid Vienna (3-4-3): Leno; Luiz, Gabriel, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Elneny, Partey, Maitland-Niles; Nelson, Nketiah, Saka.

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