Arsenal team news: Henrikh Mkhitaryan faces late fitness test ahead of Europa League showdown …


Henrikh Mkhitaryan faces a late fitness test ahead of Arsenal’s pivotal Europa League last-16 second leg against Rennes.

The Armenia international faces a race against time to prove his fitness to Arsenal manager Unai Emery ahead of their bid to overturn a 3-1 deficit, having suffered an alarming defeat in France last Thursday.

Mkhitaryan has not played since the first leg, having sat out Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Manchester United with a back injury.

To compound matters, Arsenal will definitely be without centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos after he was sent off for two bookings in the first leg, resulting in a one-match ban for the Greece international.

But Emery will at least be boosted by the return of two key players in striker Alexandre Lacazette and midfielder Lucas Torreira, who both return from suspension.

Lacazette was due to miss the second leg after picking up a three-match ban for an elbow on BATE Borisov defender Aleksandar Filipovic, but Arsenal appealed the suspension and partially succeeded in having it reduced to two, meaning that in sitting out the second leg against the Belarusian side and the first leg in Rennes, the France striker is available for Thursday’s encounter.

Torreira meanwhile missed the home victory against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in the first of a three-game Premier League ban, having been sent off in the north London derby draw with Tottenham at the start of the month.

Beyond Mkhitaryan, Arsenal remain without long-term absentees Danny Welbeck, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding, who are all sidelined for the rest of the season with knee injuries.

Provisional squad: Leno, Cech, Maitland-Niles, Lichtsteiner, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Mavropanos, Monreal, Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Elneny, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Suarez, Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette, Nketiah.

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