Going into December, Arsenal only had Santi Cazorla sidelined but now that list has grown, so who will Arsene Wenger pick for the Gunners’ clash against Newcastle?
Not only is Cazorla out for the foreseeable future after his ninth ankle surgery and now Aaron Ramsey is sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Shkodran Mustafi is back in training after suffering a muscular problem against Manchester United so could be available. However, Wenger admits it would be a gamble to pick him for Saturday.
Speaking ahead of the match against the Magpies, Wenger revealed that the Wales international will be out for at least three weeks. Considering that Ramsey is a key first team member, this is more than a little concerning. However, it does potentially give Jack Wilshere another chance to start in midfield.
The 25-year-old made his first Premier League start of the season against West Ham on Wednesday. Although the game was drab and eventually resulted in a 0-0 draw, Wilshere was the sharpest player on the pitch. However, the midfielder’s also injury-prone so Wenger might choose to start him on the bench rather than throw him into a second Premier League clash in two days.
Therefore, I’m leaning towards Mohamed Elneny starting alongside Granit Xhaka.
Alex Iwobi was also strong against the Hammers and could get the nod again in midfield.
The boss mentioned that Alexandre Lacazette is suffering from a slight groin problem, which meant he only came on with eight minutes of normal time to spare against the Hammers. The fact that he played at all shows that whatever injury he was carrying obviously wasn’t that bad so hopefully he’ll start on Saturday.
We could see Olivier Giroud start in Lacazette’s place but given the 31-year-old’s average display mid-week, this doesn’t look that likely.
Theo Walcott also apparently has a groin problem but I doubt he would have been given the nod anyway.
Despite Alexis Sanchez’s poor displays, I don’t see either him or Mesut Ozil being dropped.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Wenger reverts back to playing three at the back or whether he continues with four, as he did against West Ham.
Predicted score: 2-0 to the Arsenal.
Predicted line-up: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Elneny, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette.
Arsenal v Newcastle kicks off at 3pm on Saturday 16 December.