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Preview: Arsenal vs. BATE Borisov - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Arsenal vs. BATE Borisov - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Thursday's Europa League last-32 fixture between Arsenal and BATE Borisov.

Arsenal head into the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie with BATE Borisov needing to overcome a 1-0 deficit in order to progress through to the next round.

BATE make the trip to the Emirates Stadium knowing that avoiding defeat will result in the club reaching the last 16 of a European competition for the first time in their history.


Unai Emery would have hoped that his side would have had one foot in the next round ahead of the second leg of this tie, but the Spaniard watched on helplessly last week as his players underperformed in Belarus.

Arsenal began brightly at the home of the league champions and should have been ahead by the end of the opening quarter, but the Premier League giants found chances more difficult to come by as the game progressed.

BATE did not necessarily deserve their goal when it arrived just before half time, but Arsenal only had themselves to blame having failed to capitalise on outclassing their hosts for much of the first period.

Emery and Arsenal will have had a week to dwell on their shortcomings last week by the time that they take to the pitch on Thursday night, and it has given both parties an opportunity to reflect on the inconsistencies since the start of 2019 and what is realistically achievable during the rest of the season.

Arsenal are only one point adrift of Manchester United in the race for fourth position in the top-flight standings, but they will consider trying to win the Europa League as equal priority as they look to earn a return to the Champions League.

The North London outfit justifiably remain favourites to reach the last 16, but Emery must find solutions with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil who find themselves in and out of the starting lineup even when they are fit.

Their replacements are not producing the goods on a consistent basis and while the pair - certainly Ramsey - are not part of Arsenal's future, there cannot be a reluctance to play either man with Arsenal's short-term results having significant ramifications for their long-term plans.

Whether Emery will be prepared to find a compromise remains to be seen, but the simple fact is that failure to progress past BATE would be regarded as catastrophic by all associated with Arsenal and a positive result on Thursday night needs to be found by any means necessary.

Recent form: WWDWWL
Recent form (all competitions): WLWLWL

BATE Borisov

BATE have had plenty of meaningful wins in their short history but despite all of the domestic league and cup trophies that they have earned, last week's success over Arsenal is arguably their most memorable result.

The Belarusian champions were trounced by Arsenal on two occasions last season with 10 goals being conceded in 180 minutes of football, and it was perceived that a game against the North Londoners during the middle of their pre-season preparations would not bode well for Alyaksey Baha and his squad.

However, BATE rode the early storm to match their more illustrious opponents in all departments, and Stanislaw Dragun's brilliant header into the far corner will never be forgotten.

Nevertheless, Baha must now prepare his side for the second leg and while most of the pressure remains on Arsenal, the door is ajar for BATE to gain a spot in the last 16 of this competition for the first time.

BATE lost three of their opening four matches in the group stages - with two of those defeats coming against Chelsea - but they have now rattled off three triumphs in a row for the loss of just one goal.

There will be a considerable difference in class and fitness on Thursday night, but BATE were not overawed by last week's fixture and that may also not be the case in England this week.

The game will also mark the return of Alexander Hleb to Arsenal, with the playmaker having enjoyed a spell with the Gunners between 2005 and 2008.

However, the 37-year-old may not be included from the start on Thursday night with Baha desperate to keep hold of their slender advantage for as long as possible in order to frustrate their hosts and their expectant supporters.

Recent form: LLLWWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWWDWW

Team News

Ozil could find himself included in the 18-man squad, but Emery is unlikely to consider the German for a starting role on Thursday night.

Ramsey has been suffering with a knee problem and is only expected to feature among the replacements, and that could allow Denis Suarez to make his first start since a loan move from Barcelona.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will return to the starting lineup in place of the suspended Alexandre Lacazette, while Lucas Torreira may come back into the team ahead of Matteo Guendouzi.

Bernd Leno could potentially be recalled with Petr Cech not totally convincing between the sticks last week, and Nacho Monreal may drop down to the bench if Emery opts for a back four.

BATE boss Baha is likely to keep alterations down to a minimum, although Yevgeniy Berezkin could get the nod over Hleb in midfield.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Torreira; Iwobi, Suarez, Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang

BATE Borisov possible starting lineup:
Scherbitski; Rios, Volkov, Filipenko, Filipovic; Baga, Dragun, Berezkin; Milic, Skavysh, Stasevich

Head To Head

Thursday's match will represent the fourth competitive meeting between the clubs in the space of 18 months.

BATE's success last week came as a huge surprise with Arsenal having registered 4-2 and 6-0 victories during the group stages last season.

We say: Arsenal 3-1 BATE Borisov

Arsenal's home record is considerably better than their efforts away from the Emirates Stadium, and we feel that will be crucial on Thursday night. Don't be surprised to see BATE get on the scoresheet, but we are backing the Gunners to gain the result that they need to progress into the last 16.

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