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Sep 19, 2019 at 5.55pm UK
FrankfurtEintracht Frankfurt

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Preview: Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Eintracht Frankfurt and Arsenal, including predictions and team news.

Arsenal begin their 2019-20 Europa League campaign with a trip to Germany to face Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday evening.

The Gunners will be desperate for a return to winning ways after picking up widespread criticism for surrendering a 2-0 lead against Watford on Sunday.

Match preview

The fallout from Arsenal's second-half capitulation at Vicarage Road felt uncannily similar to so many other backlashes over the years, with Unai Emery's side displaying the same psychological infirmity at the back that many spotted over a decade ago.

For a team blessed with such remarkable, free-flowing attacking talent, you can understand why Arsenal fans become exasperated at their team making the same needless defensive errors at critical junctures in games.

Indeed, even the players themselves seem aghast at the entropic nature of their mistakes, with Granit Xhaka hitting out at his teammates for being "scared" at Vicarage Road, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored twice, bluntly said after the game that Arsenal were "literally giving goals to the opposition".

Arsenal's last European outing served as another example of this agonising defensive doom loop - their 4-1 Europa League final defeat to Chelsea in Baku.

Despite dominating large swathes of the game, the Gunners found themselves 3-0 down out of nowhere against their London rivals, with Olivier Giroud's 49th minute header setting in motion a catalogue of positional and psychological shortcomings which left Arsenal - not for the first time - falling into quicksand, seemingly susceptible to conceding whenever Chelsea came forward.

This tendency towards capitulation is something that Arsenal will have to rein in against an organised, aggressive Frankfurt side which has good experience in this competition.

Led by Adi Hutter in his first season at the club, Frankfurt recovered from a poor start to their 2018-19 campaign to embark on a sensational run of form which saw them recover from a first-leg 4-2 defeat in the quarter-final against Benfica to set up a semi-final against Chelsea.

Their performances over both legs against the Blues served as a lesson to Arsenal on how to navigate close cup competition encounters: a resolute, unified back four working in harmony with its midfielders to produce a powerful pressing game capable of serving as a springboard for attacks. In the end, Frankfurt drew both legs 1-1 against a side which, on paper at least, was far superior, with the Bundesliga side losing out on penalties in the end.

However, Frankfurt, currently languishing in ninth in the Bundesliga, has lost a couple of key players over the summer as a result of their impressive European campaign - Luka Jovic has joined Real Madrid and Sebastian Haller moved to West Ham, depriving the club of two players who combined to score 47 goals for the club in all competitions last term.

That said, the German side have not stood still, shelling out a total of £91m on 10 players over the summer, and will feel that they have rhythm in this competition having already played six Europa League qualifiers this season.

With their lively home support behind them, Frankfurt will certainly feel that they can tap into the same psychological frailties which saw Arsenal fall apart at Vicarage Road on Sunday and claim a memorable victory over the North London side.

Eintracht Frankfurt form: WLWWL
Arsenal form: WWLDD

Team News

The home side will be without Mijat Gacinovic, who picked up an injury in training last week, while former Swansea City player Jonathan de Guzman misses out due to a muscular problem.

Veteran defender Marco Russ is ruled out due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Sebastian Rode and Goncalo Paciencia are both doubts for the game.

For Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette is out until October with an ankle problem, and the chances of Kieran Tierney featuring are close to zero as the new signing continues to recover from a hernia operation.

Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos are Arsenal's trio of long-term absentees, although they are all expected to return to training over the next month.

Eintracht Frankfurt possible starting lineup:
Trapp; Abraham, Hinteregger, Hasebe; Rode; Gregoritsch, Sow, Chandler, da Costa; Silva, Cordova

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Kolasinac, Luiz, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles; Xhaka, Willock, Torreira, Ozil; Aubameyang, Pepe

We say: Eintracht Frankfurt 2-2 Arsenal

Arsenal always entertain, although not always for the right reasons, and the meeting in Germany is likely to be no different against a side which will commit players forward in front of its home supporters.

The Gunners are very likely to experience another shaky passage of play and concede at some point, but Frankfurt's defence will likewise give the likes of Mesut Ozil and Aubameyang space for them to exploit. It could be something of an end-to-end encounter.

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