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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Europa League maestro Unai Emery should make winning start with Arsenal

Henrikh Mkhitaryan could send Gunners on their way to cosy victory

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has a decent goalscoring record in the Europa League
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Europa League Group E
BT Sport 2, 8pm Thursday

Arsenal were a cut above their group-stage rivals Cologne, BATE Borisov and Red Star Belgrade in last season's Europa League and the Gunners have little to fear from Ukrainian visitors Vorskla Poltava in their first game of this season's campaign.

New boss Unai Emery has a proud record in this competition, winning the trophy three times on the bounce at Sevilla, and his squad has the depth to ease past Vorskla.

Germany goalkeeper Bernd Leno, Switzerland captain Stephan Lichtsteiner and Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira could be among the starters for Arsenal and Alex Iwobi, Danny Welbeck and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are a decent second-string attack.

After opening up with league defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea, Emery has been boosted by victories over West Ham, Cardiff and Newcastle.

Arsenal's defence has been breached at least once in all five games under Emery but new keeper Leno shouldn't be busy against a Vorskla side who have scored only seven goals in eight league matches this season.

They have reached the Europa League group stage only once, taking just two points from six games against Hannover, Standard Liege and Copenhagen in 2011-12, and may find themselves outclassed by Arsenal.

Mkhitaryan, like his manager Emery, loves the Europa League. He notched in the 2016-17 final for Manchester United and opened the scoring in Arsenal's last-16 trip to Milan.

The Armenian has looked lively when given the chance this season, with nine attempts on goal in 292 minutes in the Premier League, including a goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

H Mkhitaryan first goalscorer
1pt 11-2 Betway

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Team news
Several first-team regulars are likely to be rested with goalkeeper Bernd Leno and midfielder Lucas Torreira set for full debuts. 

Denys Vasin, Volodymyr Odaryuk and Yuri Kolomoets are missing for the visitors.

Key stat
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored six goals in Manchester United's successful Europa League campaign of 2016-17.

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Arsenal's defence has been breached at least once in all five games under Emery but new keeper Leno shouldn't be busy against Vorskla
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