Arsenal face Bournemouth away in the Premier League on Thursday, so here’s our predicted lineup for Mikel Arteta’s first game as the new head coach.
Just like when we did our first predicted lineup for Freddie Ljungberg at the start of the month, it’s worth mentioning we’re working on next to nothing for this Arsenal game against Bournemouth.
We’ve kept up with all the team news, as usual, we know the players in and out through suspension. Still, exactly how Mikel Arteta wants to set up a senior football team is a mystery until he does so.
With that in mind, here’s our predicted Arsenal team to face Bournemouth on Boxing Day.
It’s hard to think of a reason Arteta would come in and drop Bernd Leno. The German will keep his place with Emi Martinez on the bench.
Sead Kolasinac will return in January, Kieran Tierney in March. As a result, Bukayo Saka is likely to keep his place at left-back after a good performance at the weekend.
Hector Bellerin is back in full training, but Arsenal are still assessing him for Bournemouth. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is more likely to start as a result, with Bellerin perhaps returning against Chelsea at the weekend.
Ideally, Arsenal would want to stick with the same back four that did well against Everton. Unfortunately, Calum Chambers’ yellow card in that game leaves him serving a suspension. Rob Holding is also a strong doubt to return in time.
David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos are the likely pairing as a result. That’s unless Arteta takes a particular fancy to Shkodran Mustafi.
Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira played well against Everton. With Dani Ceballos still on the verge of a return and Matteo Guendouzi out of form, the pair should keep their places.
Mesut Özil is fit and served his punishment from Ljungberg against Everton. The interim coach made it clear he was going to leave Özil at home for that game after his reaction to the substitution against Manchester City.
Arteta suggested everyone has a clean slate under him, so he should bring Özil back in for this game. Emile Smith Rowe will drop to the bench.
Gabriel Martinelli has a tight left hamstring, so it’s not worth risking him from the start. Saka’s left-back duties cut the club’s left-wing options still further. Reiss Nelson will probably start on the left side.
On the right, Nicolas Pepe should return to the starting lineup. Up front, it could be either Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette.
Neither made a strong case for themselves against Everton. We predict Arteta will go with Aubameyang though, as the top scorer.