The Arsenal lineup that should start against Benfica in the Europa League

Mikel Arteta's Arsenal are back in Europa League action on Thursday night when they take on Benfica in the first leg of their round of 32 clash.

The Portuguese giants qualified for the knockout phase as runners up to Rangers in Group D, winning three and drawing three, and come into the tie unbeaten in four matches - although they rather disappointingly sit fourth in Liga NOS, 13 points off leaders Sporting CP.

The Gunners have enjoyed a fantastic Europa League campaign up to this point, comfortably topping Group B with a 100% record, scoring 20 and conceding just five in the process. It hasn't been as smooth domestically but Arsenal got their first win in four at the weekend, beating Leeds 4-2 in the Premier League.

Here, 90min picks the Arsenal lineup that should start the game, which is being held in Rome due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

1. Goalkeeper & Defenders

Another chance for Matt Ryan in goal? | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Mat Ryan (GK) - Despite conceding just 74 seconds into his Gunners debut against Aston Villa, the Australian goalkeeper could get another opportunity as Arteta has favoured a back up option for the Europa League thus far.

Hector Bellerin (RB) - The Spaniard has featured just once - as a substitute - in Europe this season but, with Cedric filling in for Kieran Tierney on the left, looks likely to start this time out.

Pablo Mari (CB) - The defender came in for the last two group stage games and looks set for another start in the competition.

Gabriel (CB) - A consistent performer for the Gunners this season and, having played the last three matches, looks set to continue his run in the side on Thursday night.

Cedric Soares (LB) - The Portuguese has had a good run of form of late and has shown his versatility by seamlessly moving to left back.

2. Midfielders

Emile Smith Rowe could star in a strong Arsenal midfield | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Granit Xhaka (CM) - The Swiss international is another player who has come good of late, and has not missed a minute of Arsenal's last eight outings.

Dani Ceballos (CM) - The Spaniard has performed brilliantly recently and grabbed an assist last time out against Leeds. Is capable of injecting real quality from deep and could provide that creative spark.

Emile Smith Rowe (AM) - Joe Willock was arguably the Gunners' stand out performer in the group stages but he's now joined Newcastle on loan. As a result, Smith-Rowe will likely fill the number ten spot.

3. Forwards

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went home with the match ball against Leeds | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Bukayo Saka (RW) - Has become indispensable to Arteta's side, particularly since he secured a regular gig on the right flank.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ST) - Arsenal's captain grabbed his first Premier League hat-trick at the weekend and will look to take that clinical edge into a difficult battle against Premier League alumni Jan Vertonghen and Nicolas Otamendi.

Nicolas Pepe (LW) - The Ivorian missed out against Leeds, but could come back into the fold after featuring in all of Arsenal's group stage games.

Source : 90min