Arsenal face Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday in the final match before the international break.
As it always is at this time of year, as soon as you start to get a run of games going, another round of international matches gets in the way. Arsenal have one more fixture before then, and it’s a Premier League clash against eighth-placed Bournemouth.
Bournemouth are on a decent run of games, with two wins and a draw in their last three league games, though they did lose 2-0 to Burton Albion in the League Cup in the middle of those fixtures.
Callum Wilson is in fantastic form for the team, scoring five goals in his last four league games. That’s exactly the same as Aubameyang has managed – though arguably the Arsenal striker faced tougher fixtures.
To sum up, this isn’t a game Unai Emery should take lightly, and his heavy rotation on Thursday suggests he doesn’t plan to. Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup for the clash.
The battle between Bernd Leno and Emi Martinez is hotting up, with Martinez yet to concede a goal in his three Europa League and League Cup appearances this season. Martinez hasn’t had a huge amount to do in the most recent two games though.
Leno will keep his place for now, but the longer Martinez’s run of clean sheets goes on, the better his chances of finally getting a Premier League game.
Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are almost certain not to start, however much you want to deny it. They’re on a very strict rehabilitation schedule that probably doesn’t involve playing 90 minutes on a Thursday and then starting a league game three days later. They’ll be back after the international break.
The same is probably true of Rob Holding, though he is a lot further ahead in his recovery. You’d expect Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz to keep their places in the team this weekend.
Sead Kolasinac and Calum Chambers will complete the back four, as the only real alternatives to Tierney and Bellerin. Ainsley Maitland-Niles seems to finally have freed himself from right-back, starting on the wing on Thursday.
This is another one Arsenal fans probably won’t be very happy about. It’s hard to see past the usual sitting midfield pair of Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi for this game.
Joe Willock has been excellent in every start he’s made recently, but Unai Emery hasn’t given him one in the league since August. Mesut Özil couldn’t even make the squad on Thursday, so a bench spot this weekend is likely the best he can hope for.
Lucas Torreira and Dani Ceballos both started on Thursday, but one of them is sure to reprise their role against Bournemouth. Our prediction is Ceballos.
Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka will start, as they did against Manchester United. Saka was completely rested on Thursday, which was a pretty clear sign he’s starting against Bournemouth.
The other two made appearances from the bench against Standard Liege, but that won’t stop them making the lineup for this game as well.
Arsenal have a couple of in-form attacking options for the bench at the moment, with Gabriel Martinelli and Reiss Nelson both contributing to the goals against in midweek.