Arsenal face Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, looking to get back to winning ways in the Premier League so how might they lineup?
The Gunners managed to scrape through their Europa League clash with Vitoria on Thursday, thanks to last-minute heroics from Nicolas Pepe. In the league, the last game was an embarrassing defeat to Sheffield United, so Unai Emery really needs a win here to get Arsenal back on track for a top-four finish.
A home game against Crystal Palace used to be almost a guaranteed result. Arsenal had won six and drawn two of their previous eight home matchups, before losing 3-2 to blow their Champions League hopes in April.
Since the beginning of September, Palace have arguably had completely predictable results. They lost to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, they drew with Wolves, and they beat West Ham and Norwich.
They did beat Manchester United earlier in the season though, and Arsenal have shown recently they can drop points to anybody. Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup for the match.
Bernd Leno will play, as Unai Emery hasn’t shown any signs of giving Emi Martinez a game in the league or Leno a game in any other competition.
Sead Kolasinac will start on the left, with David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos as centre-backs and Calum Chambers on the right.
The four realistic alternatives to that back four all played 90 minutes against Vitoria on Thursday. It seems very unlikely any of them will come straight into the starting lineup again three days later, particularly as Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin are all returning from injuries.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles appears to have moved on from his role as a right-back, whilst Konstantinos Mavropanos seems to be out of favour.
Joe Willock, Lucas Torreira and Emile Smith Rowe started on Thursday, and Torreira and Smith Rowe played the full 90 minutes. Willock came off at half-time, but he’s had a rough week and probably won’t start against Palace.
That leaves Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Dani Ceballos to make up the midfield three.
Mesut Özil would be an excellent option too, of course, but we’re not even allowed to ask Emery why he’s not in the team anymore, simply getting responses like “Tonight is not the day to speak about that” or “He’s not in the squad. That is the decision tonight”.
It would be a (welcome) surprise to see Özil involved on Sunday.
Once again, these spots pretty much pick themselves after Thursday. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will come back into the team up front, after sitting out of the squad completely.
Nicolas Pepe only made a brief substitute appearance on Thursday despite scoring two goals, so he’ll start. Bukayo Saka will probably complete the front three.
Reiss Nelson is injured, Alexandre Lacazette is just back from injury and played 75 minutes on Thursday, whilst Gabriel Martinelli played the full 90.
There’s a small possibility Lacazette could take Saka’s place with Aubameyang moving out wide, but it feels a bit too soon for Lacazette to make consecutive starts in games so close together.
Predicted Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Click here to check out our player ratings from the midweek clash with Vitoria.