25-year-old dropped, Arteta makes Partey decision: Predicted Arsenal XI vs Benfica
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25-year-old dropped, Arteta makes Partey decision: Predicted Arsenal XI vs Benfica

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Arsenal take on Benfica later today in what is a must-win game. Our entire season depends on the Europa League and if we get knocked out of the competition, we might as well forget about playing in Europe next term.

Mikel Arteta has to get his team right. Every player he picks has to deliver, there are no excuses.

Rob Holding is ruled out of the game due to concussion, but everyone apart from him is likely to be available for selection – including Thomas Partey who has reportedly travelled with the squad to Greece.

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Partey on the bench, Cedric starts ahead of Bellerin

Bernd Leno will keep his place with David Luiz and Gabriel starting ahead of him. Kieran Tierney played the entire game against Manchester City and it is very likely that he will start again this evening.

Hector Bellerin, however, should make way for Cedric Soares. The 25-year-old Spaniard has had his troubles in recent weeks. His attacking threat has been minimal, and considering that he has played almost every game since Boxing Day, a day off might do him good.

Cedric has done very well at left-back in Tierney’s absence. The Scotsman now takes over but the Portuguese international deserves to get a good run of games in his natural right-back position.

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Partey is with the squad but it would be silly to risk him. Yes, this is our most important game of the season, but we simply cannot afford to rush him back like we did against Tottenham – we all know what happened then.

Dani Ceballos returns to the starting lineup in place of Mohamed Elneny, while Granit Xhaka, one of our best players over the last two months, keeps his place in the middle of our park.

The front-four will likely be the same as last week.

Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka will feature on the flanks with Martin Odegaard starting again in his preferred number 10 role. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will keep his place up top and he has to deliver.

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The Gabon star missed three sitters against Benfica last week. His performance against Manchester City on Sunday wasn’t great either, but if he can get us over the line tomorrow, everything will be forgotten.

Here’s how we think Arsenal will lineup against Benfica

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