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Europa League preview: Arsenal seeks comeback, Chelsea sees “disaster” pitch

APTOPIX Britain Soccer Premier League

Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Fulham at Emirates stadium in London, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)


Arsenal has its work cut out for itself in Thursday’s Europa League second legs, while Chelsea has to just hold its water in Ukraine.

The Gunners have experience flipping a tie on its ear, doing the same in the previous round, and received some good news: Alexandre Lacazette’s suspension was cut short and he can play as Arsenal looks to overcome a 3-1 first leg deficit to Stade Rennes.

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“We all know how important Alex Lacazette is to us as a group and obviously the more players we have available, the better it is because we do have some quality players, particularly in midfield and up top,” said Unai Emery. “Hopefully we will be able to make that danger pay. Let’s just hope that Lacazette can help us to achieve the result.”

Arsenal will not have suspended Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

As for Chelsea, the Londoners lead 3-0 after 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge but know things can get dicey far from home.

Manager Maurizio Sarri says that Dynamo Kiev’s pitch is a far cry from its “wonderful” status when he led Napoli there two seasons ago.

“A disaster,” Sarri said. “The pitch is not good, I think it’s really dangerous. It will be very difficult to play good football here at this moment, and I think it’s dangerous for injuries, but we have to accept the situation and play on this pitch. There isn’t another solution.

“I don’t understand why UEFA give so much attention to everything, like the players’ list, and then we have to play on such a bad pitch. It will also be very difficult for Dynamo. It’s a problem for us but also for our opponents.”

Chelsea gets an early kickoff, 1:55 p.m. ET, while Arsenal kicks off at 4 p.m.

Thursday’s Europa League second legs

1:55 p.m. ET
Dynamo Kiev v. Chelsea -- Chelsea leads 3-0
FK Krasnodar v. Valencia -- Valencia leads 2-1
RB Salzburg v. Napoli -- Napoli leads 3-0

4 p.m. ET
Arsenal v. Rennes -- Rennes leads 3-1
Inter Milan v. Eintracht Frankfurt -- 0-0
Slavia Prague v. Sevilla -- 2-2
Villarreal v. Zenit Saint-Petersburg -- Villarreal leads 3-1
Benfica v. Dinamo Zagreb - Zagreb leads 1-0

Follow @NicholasMendola