Qarabag vs Arsenal

Arsenal will be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan when they face Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday (kick-off 5.55pm BST) after the club opted against applying for a special work permit.

Armenian nationals have been banned from entering Azerbaijan in recent years due to conflicts between the two nations, and Mkhitaryan has decided against applying for a special permit based on family advice.

Unai Emery’s side opened their Group E campaign with a comfortable win over Ukrainian side Vorskla Poltava a fortnight ago.

Emery, who won the Europa League three times in a row while in charge of Sevilla, has taken a strong squad for the 5,000-mile round trip to Azerbaijan.

The Gunners will aim to extend their winning run to eight matches in all competitions and Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil were all among the travelling party which boarded the long flight to Baku on Wednesday morning.

Bernd Leno is set to play in goal after it was confirmed that Petr Cech will be sidelined for the next four weeks with a hamstring injury.

Cech has made seven Premier League appearances this season, with Emery utilising summer signing Leno in the Europa League and Carabao Cup.

This will be Arsenal’s sixth match in less than three weeks, so Emery is expected to rotate his starting line-up.

The Gunners are facing Fulham at noon on Sunday, but the Spaniard is expected to field a strong side in Baku despite Mkhitaryan’s absence.

Alex Iwobi impressed when he came off the bench against Watford and could be in line for a start, while Sead Kolasinac and Stephan Lichtsteiner could be handed recalls.

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