Arsenal in the Europa League: which fringe players could benefit?

With heavy rotation is expected, a number of Arsenal fringe players could stake their claim for first team football.

Arsenal in the Europa League: which fringe players could benefit?
A way back in for Jack Wilshere? | Photo credit: GettyImages- Stuart McFarlane

For the first time in 20 years, there will be no Champions League football for Arsenal.

After managing only a fifth place finish, The Gunners will instead compete in the Europa League.

As the saying goes, "every cloud has a silver lining," and in this instance a silver lining could be an Arsenal fringe player potentially becoming a first teamer. Here's a look at some players who could force their way into Arsène Wenger's thinking;

Jack Wilshere

In truth, there's no other place to start than with Jack Wilshere. An Arsenal academy graduate who once had the world at his feet. At 25 years of age, Wilshere by now was expected to be a fixture in the starting XI, perhaps even club captain.

However, several injury setbacks and fluctuating form has seen Wilshere banished to the fringes of the Arsenal first team. A loan to Bournemouth last season was seen as the ideal tonic to get the England international's career back on track. But injury would once again prove an obstacle for Wilshere, and his loan ended prematurely, after featuring in 27 league matches. 

The Europa League presents a great opportunity for him to get competitive minutes and simultaneously remind everybody of his quality. It's fair to say several Arsenal supporters still hold hope that he will become a key player at The Emirates.

Mohamed Elneny

Signed from Basel in the January transfer window last year, Elneny has yet to establish himself in the Arsenal starting XI.

The 25-year-old is a box-to-box midfielder with an impressive engine who can be trusted in possession- but the jury is out on his productivity. 

Elneny was signed purely as a squad player, expected to fill in when first team regulars were injured/unavailable or being rested. To date, he has been used as such, but with the Europa League looming his first team appearances are set to increase.

Can Elneny achieve more than expected and challenge for a spot in the first team? The stage is set for him to do just that.

Calum Chambers

Arsenal rejected a £20M deadline day bid from Leicester to keep Chambers in north London, an indicator that he features in Wenger's plans one way or another.

The former Southampton man spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough, where he played over 20 league games and in the process gained invaluable experience. 

Arsenal's defence is currently under scrutiny, after leaking eight goals in their opening four Premier League games. Chambers arrived with a big reputation, after emerging from Southampton's famed youth setup, playing time in Europe's second tier competition could help him deliver on his potential.

Alex Iwobi

Another academy graduate, Iwobi burst onto the scene in 2015 and simply put, was a breath of fresh air.

Neat and tidy on the ball with an eye for a pass, Iwobi drew comparisons to his famous footballing uncle, one Jay-Jay Okotcha

But the signing of Alexandre Lacazette and the form of Alexis Sanchez has understandably saw Iwobi's first team action limited. The 21-year-old will no doubt be keen to impress in the Europa league in an effort to regain his place in Arsenal's starting XI. 

Olivier Giroud

Few Arsenal players, past or present, have divided opinion quite like Olivier Giroud.

The towering Frenchman is on the cusp of 100 goals for Arsenal and has proved tremendous value for money- arriving in 2012 for a fee of around £10M. 

Last season Giroud was seen as a super sub, often coming off the bench to have an impact on games late on. But he himself will not be satisfied with a bit-part role, particularly with it being a World Cup year. 

Giroud is expected to start most of - if not - all Arsenal's Europa League fixtures. If he hits the back of the net with regularity, surely it won't be long before he once again becomes a starter. 

Arsenal FC