Stoke were comfortably seen off on Saturday and now it’s already-relegated Sunderland for Arsenal on Tuesday.
Four points separate Liverpool, Manchester City and fifth placed Arsenal but it’s increasingly unlikely that either side will slip up in the race for a top-four place. Nevertheless, it’s important that Arsenal continue winning to maintain the pressure on the teams above.
In less reassuring news, Arsene Wenger has revealed that Laurent Koscielny has a “little problem” from the 4-1 win over Stoke this past weekend, whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) is still sidelined and there are doubts about Alexis Sánchez’s fitness.
Kieran Gibbs was left out of the matchday squad altogether against Mark Hughes’ side, but could feature once again in midweek as rotation is entirely possible.
“Alexis Sanchez will have a test today, yesterday it didn’t look too good but with him you never know,“Wenger said
What’s interesting is that many supporters are wondering what effect finishing outside the Champions League places could have on Arsenal’s pulling power this summer.
“I know where you want to lead me,” Wenger said when questioned about finishing outside the top-four.
He continued, saying that it would not have “any influence on the way the club will be be led or how we will behave on the transfer market,” which is a boost if nothing else.
It has also been revealed that the Frenchman first considered switching formation into a back three in November last year.
Why he wasn’t brave enough to change the system sooner then, is not clear.
As previously mentioned, it’s likely that Wenger will rotate his team around but not too radically to ruin the free-flowing balance that has netted eight goals in their last three league fixtures.
If players like Koscielny and Alexis are truly in contention to feature, it’s important that they are not risked. With an FA Cup final to play against league champions Chelsea in just under two weeks time, it’s important that key players are given adequate rest and avoid aggravating their injuries.
It’s possible that he’ll revert to the back-three which started against Southampton and kept a clean sheet too, with Monreal playing as a centre-back and Gibbs recalled to the starting eleven. Bellerín impressed at the Britannia and it’ll be a surprise not to see him start once again.
Possible XI (3-4-2-1): Cech; Holding, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Gibbs; Welbeck, Ozil; Giroud.
David Moyes’ side have plenty of injuries to contend with, many who will not play at the Emirates.
Centre-back Jason Denayer (thigh) and Victor Anichebe (hamstring) are expected to have late fitness tests, but this match will come too soon for the likes of Lee Cattermole (Achilles), Jan Kirchhoff and Duncan Watmore (both knee) – all who are expected to miss the remainder of the campaign.
Denayer started in central midfield and was replaced by Darron Gibson on the weekend. It’d be a surprise to see him start on this occasion, solely due to a lack of mobility. Instead Sunderland could pair Didier Ndong and Jack Rodwell to protect the backline whilst Sebastian Larsson operates further forward.
The Black Cats were the first team to get relegated this term and with another trip to London ahead as they play Chelsea next on Sunday, they’ll be keen to go out on a high.
Possible XI: (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Jones, Kone, O’Shea, Manquillo; Ndong, Rodwell; Borini, Khazri, Larsson; Defoe.