Arsène Wenger made a statement on Wednesday by fielding such a strong eleven against Huddersfield, but what will he do this weekend?
Wenger’s decision to play what most fans think is his strongest team against Huddersfield ended up having mixed results. On the one hand, Arsenal achieved their biggest win of the season, finishing 5-0 winners. On the other, Alexandre Lacazette fell injured, and will now not feature against United.
So who will feature against Jose Mourinho’s side?
Petr Čech. I don’t think there’s any debate here. If he’s not even dropped for Huddersfield, he won’t be dropped for United, bar a training injury between now and then.
Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi have been fantastic so far when played as a trio, so they’re the clear choices for Saturday’s match. Although they’ve still had a mistake in them occasionally (Mustafi was lucky not to give away a penalty against West Brom, for example), they’re yet to concede a goal in all five matches, including against Chelsea and Spurs.
For a match as big as the one on Saturday, I can’t see any experimentation taking place with the wing-backs, and it would have to be an experiment to drop Sead Kolašinac or Héctor Bellerín. Neither had fantastic games against Huddersfield, but both got into good areas frequently. Hopefully, they’ll be able to make better use of those areas on this occasion.
When Ramsey was substituted in the 73rd minute against Huddersfield, I could only see one reason why. The Welshman was playing fantastically, and already had a couple of assists, but clearly Wenger wanted to save his energy for the weekend. So Aaron will start, alongside Granit Xhaka, who was last dropped to the bench in the league over a year ago, against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Even though United are this weekend’s opponents, I think we’ll have to keep waiting for Wilshere’s return.
Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, if fit, will play. They both scored against Huddersfield, and were both involved in the goals in Arsenal’s last big-six match against Spurs. Alexis probably put in his best (only?) performance of the season that day Hopefully he can replicate it again on this occasion.
This is the hardest selection to call. Danny Welbeck could start against his former club, given he’s already scored on multiple occasions against them. He may even start in a wide-forward role, with Alexis Sanchez ahead of him.
With two goals on Wednesday, and his equaliser against Mourinho’s side last season, Olivier Giroud may also be considered for selection. I think Wenger should forego any sense of sentimentality with Giroud on this occasion, and pick the player with the better record against United, but we’ll see.
Line up (3-4-2-1): Čech; Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerín, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolašinac; Sanchez, Özil; Welbeck.