Arsenal host Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in a Premier League clash on Sunday, Mikel Arteta’s first home game as the new head coach.
The Gunners only drew away to Bournemouth in Arteta’s first game, but they showed positive signs. Coming from behind to draw showed good resolve and the way the team controlled much of the game was encouraging, despite poor crossing and finishing on the day.
Things aren’t going to get any easier for Arteta though, with a London derby up next. Chelsea may have lost three of their last four league games but they’re eight points ahead of Arsenal and the one they did win was away to Tottenham Hotspur.
Let’s have a look at our predicted Arsenal team for the Chelsea clash.
Bernd Leno will start, as usual. Arteta isn’t showing any desire to drop the German goalkeeper in his current form. Emi Martinez will make the bench.
The good news is that Calum Chambers is back after suspension. With Sokratis going off with an injury against Bournemouth, Arsenal needed a replacement. David Luiz should start alongside Chambers against his old team.
Rob Holding is still recovering from a setback of his own, whilst Arteta is unlikely to trust in Shkodran Mustafi for a game like this. Konstantinos Mavropanos might make the bench again if Sokratis is out completely.
Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will probably have to fill in at full-back again. Hector Bellerín is only edging closer to full match fitness, whilst Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney are a way off.
Arteta will probably start the same midfield he used against Bournemouth. Mesut Özil came off early, so he should be ready for another game. Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira are way ahead of the other midfield pairing options right now.
Dani Ceballos might be back in contention for the squad, but Arteta won’t want to throw him straight into the starting lineup. Joe Willock and Matteo Guendouzi should make the bench, along with Emile Smith Rowe if Ceballos isn’t involved.
Neither Reiss Nelson nor Alexandre Lacazette had particularly encouraging games against Bournemouth. But if Gabriel Martinelli is still out and Bukayo Saka is at left-back, there aren’t enough alternatives to replace them both.
Nelson will probably drop out for Nicolas Pépé, with Lacazette up front and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left again. With the way Saka pushed up whilst Arsenal were in possession, Aubameyang’s role was closer to that of an inside-forward than a winger, which isn’t so bad.