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Controversial figure on board, few youngsters called up – The Arsenal travelling squad to Molde



Arsenal have travelled to take on Molde in the Europa League on Thursday.

The team have flown to Norway 24 hours earlier than normal due to COVID-19 precautions in the country. Upon arrival they will only be allowed to leave their hotel to train and play the match.

Historically the Europa League is a competition where Arsenal have looked to blood some of their young talents.

In recent seasons Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Joe Willock have all excelled in the competition and made their way into the Premier League team as a result.

It appears that Mikel Arteta is keeping up this trend with the group of players he is taking to play the Norwegian champions.

Ben Cottrell and Miguel Azeez could both be in line to make their debuts on Thursday after travelling with the squad. The two central midfielders have impressed for the under-23s, with Azeez in particular drawing comparisons to Patrick Vieira with his strong performances in the middle of the park.

Their involvement suggests that Thomas Partey still might not be fit enough to take part on Thursday night, while Mohamed Elneny is still quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19.

Folarin Balogun was also on the plane after news emerged this week that Arsenal are set to reopen contract talks with the 19-year-old. The highly rated striker made his senior debut on matchday two of the Gunners Europa League campaign against Dundalk and could be in line for some more minutes as the club tries to convince him to stay.

Emile Smith-Rowe was pictured boarding the Gunners flight from Luton as well. The 20-year-old was not included in Arsenal’s first team photocall last week but is still a part of Mikel Arteta’s plans after scoring three goals in three Premier League 2 games this season and impressing in a loan spell at Huddersfield last campaign.

He could be set for a run in the first team after injuries to Bukayo Saka and Willian and Nicolas Pepe ’s red card.

There were some questions as to whether the Ivorian would travel with the side after Arteta described his sending off for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski in the Gunners’ 0-0 draw with Leeds as “unacceptable” and claimed that he had “let the team down.”

However, he has reportedly travelled with the side and could be in line to start as Arsenal seek to keep their limited attacking options fresh ahead of a gruelling Premier League schedule.

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