Arsenal face Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, looking to build on a midweek Europa League win and put an embarrassing result against Watford behind them.
Unai Emery’s side papered over the cracks somewhat in Frankfurt on Thursday, winning 3-0 thanks largely to the influence of youth, a positive goalkeeping performance from Emi Martinez and Frankfurt’s wastefulness.
That hasn’t put to bed feelings of unrest from Arsenal’s last Premier League result, as they blew a 2-0 lead to draw to the division’s bottom club Watford. As much as any other reason, it’s become crucial for the mood around the club for the Gunners to pick up three points this weekend.
Let’s have a look at the team news and our predicted lineup for the Villa clash.
Emi Martinez was excellent against Frankfurt on Thursday, but Bernd Leno is Emery’s first choice in the Premier League right now, and he’s also been very good so far this season. Leno should start this one with Martinez playing the next against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup.
Hector Bellerín and Kieran Tierney are both with the u23s this weekend, as they continue recovering from their injuries. Konstantinos Mavropanos is in a similar situation, albeit one step ahead of the duo having played an hour last weekend.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos was rested for the trip to Frankfurt to be ready for the Villa game, so there’s no doubt he’ll start. The other centre-back spot is likely to go to David Luiz, though there are a number of alternative options.
Rob Holding is finally back around the squad, and he travelled to Frankfurt with the team. Calum Chambers started at right-back on Thursday, but he’s been waiting for an opportunity in the centre since the first game of the season. Shkodran Mustafi is also available, but probably the least likely to start.
It’s hard to see past Sead Kolašinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles for the full-back positions.
Like Sokratis, Mesut Özil was rested for the Villa game, so it would be a real surprise not to see him in the starting lineup.
Assuming Emery doesn’t go with the midfield diamond, which didn’t work against Liverpool or Watford, that leaves two more midfield spots.
Dani Ceballos came off the bench against Frankfurt, whilst Matteo Guendouzi was completely rested, so those two appear to be the most likely candidates to join Özil.
Joe Willock’s early substitution does give him a good shot too though, and it’s hard to imagine a Premier League Emery team without Xhaka in it when fit. Lucas Torreira is the least likely to make the lineup.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is certain to start once again, despite playing all six matches this season, with Alexandre Lacazette still out. Nicolas Pépé should join him on the right, having only made a substitute appearance against Frankfurt.
The left-wing position is very much up for grabs. Bukayo Saka has thrust himself into the conversation with a goal and two assists on Thursday, but Reiss Nelson was presumably being saved for this game when he didn’t come on in midweek.
Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe are available as well, and at least one of them should make the bench.