Arsenal signing makes debut, Reiss Nelson rewarded and star gets second chance vs Sporting CP

The Europa League is back in Arsenal’s sights as preparations begin for Thursday’s round of 16 first leg against Sporting CP.

The Gunners earned a bye at this stage of the competition by leading their group – which consisted of PSV Eindhoven, FC Zürich and FK Bodo/Glimt – to a knockout stage play-off game against avoided one of the eight teams that moved out of the Champions League.

And with Barcelona eliminated, Arsenal expect to reach the final in Hungary at the end of May. With a Premier League title race underway, it remains to be seen whether Mikel Arteta’s side can juggle both competitions as squad depth will certainly play a big role.

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With Thursday night’s clash being the north London outfit’s third game in eight days, it’s almost certain that the rotation will come into effect to some extent, especially as the Spaniard is ahead of the dramatic 3-2 win against Bournemouth alluded to.

“It depends, obviously we haven’t had two teams available in the last five months,” Arteta told reporters. “So we didn’t have more than 16/17 outfield players, so that would have been impossible. Let’s see if we have the chance, and if we want to manage the rotation that way, it’s a possibility.

“But in the end the players have to earn the right to play and it’s not because you have two games a week, so we’ll see what we can do.”

Now in the last few Premier League games where Arteta has decided to freshen things up, he has rarely made more than two changes to his starting line-up from the previous game. However, with a London derby three days later in Fulham, the chances of further changes are considerably higher.

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