Europa League preview: Arsenal’s biggest test yet; Chelsea to rest stars

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Arsenal has a very tricky few days ahead of itself, facing the toughest test of its Europa League group stage before returning home for a London Derby against Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

[ MORE: Champions League Weds. wrap ]

A trip to Sporting Lisbon is first, with Bruno Fernandes and Nani poised to knock Arsenal of its perch atop Group E. Both sides have defeated Vorskla Poltava and both have knocked off Qarabag, with Arsenal leading its Portuguese opponents on goal difference.

Unai Emery is very, very focused on Thursday. From Arsenal.com:

“This is a very, very big match and important for our confidence and to try to continue working tactically on the things  with the players with a lot of respect for them. We want to win against Sporting.”

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is keeping the Premier League fixtures in the forefront as his Blues host BATE Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday.

The Blues will face Burnley at Turf Moor, and will be looking to keep their undefeated league record in tact following a 2-2 draw with Manchester United. Sarri will be giving some rest to his stars’ legs. From ChelseaFC.com:

“We need to think and be careful. For instance Jorginho needs to rest now as he played two 90 minutes in two match for the Italy national team and then nearly 100 minutes in our last game, so it is time to rest for him. Tomorrow Eden Hazard is out for sure. He has a back problem,’ the boss continued. ‘We are trying to solve the problem for Sunday,’.”

Other key matches include Celtic seeking a big result at RB Leipzig, AC Milan and Real Betis squaring off for Group F’s driver’s seat, and Rangers hosting Russian opposition in a bid to keep up a surprise run through Group G.

Elsewhere

12:55 p.m. ET kickoffs
AC Milan vs. Real Betis
Copenhagen vs. Slavia Prague
Zenit Saint-Petersburg vs. Bordeaux
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Rosenborg
Zurich vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Anderlecht vs. Fenerbahce
Sporting Lisbon vs. Arsenal
F91 Dudelange vs. Olympiacos
Qarabag vs. Vorskla Poltava
AEK Larnaca vs. Ludogorets Razgrad
Spartak Trnava vs. Dinamo Zagreb
RB Leipzig vs. Celtic

3 p.m. ET
Villarreal vs. Rapid Vienna
Sevilla vs. Akhisar Belediyespor
Marseille vs. Lazio
Rennes vs. Dynamo Kiev
PAOK vs. MOL Vidi
Standard Liege vs. FC Krasnodar
Chelsea vs. BATE Borisov
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Apollon Limassol
Besiktas vs. Genk
Jablonec vs. Astana
Sarpsborg vs. Malmo
Rangers vs. Spartak Moscow