After last week’s emphatic win against Everton, Arsenal will want to keep the good feeling going with a similar starting XI in the North London derby on Saturday.
In his pre-match press conference, Arsene Wenger confirmed that the squad should be similar to last weekend.
The only differences are that Danny Welbeck is close to returning, and Petr Čech is a doubt. Wenger was keen to stress that he won’t risk Čech if the goalkeeper isn’t 100%.
Jeorge Bird tweeted that the goalkeeper was in full training on Friday though, so I think he’ll start.
Petr Cech was in full training today
— Jeorge Bird (@jeorgebird) February 9, 2018
Fortunately, Nacho Monreal recovered well after his half-time substitution against Everton, so he’s available.
Next to the left-back, Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny are the regular starting pair. I definitely wouldn’t expect Wenger to change that up on derby day. Hector Bellerin will play on the right, as usual.
Now Jack Wilshere’s illness has passed, I’d expect him to start the match in the middle alongside Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka. Ramsey scored a hat-trick against Everton, so he’s in great form coming into the match. Xhaka played well last weekend as well, but more to the point, this season he starts whatever happens.
Then in the front three, Mesut Özil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan should all receive another start.
There’s a possibility Wenger will decide to stick more strictly to last weekend’s line-up. If so, Alex Iwobi could come in for Wilshere.
However, given the importance of this match and the 26-year-old’s experience relative to Iwobi’s, I doubt it.
Alexandre Lacazette might feel hard done by to miss out again, but since Aubameyang can’t play in the mid-week game against Östersund, this selection makes more sense.
Predicted line-up: Cech, Monreal, Koscielny, Mustafi, Bellerin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang.