Arsenal host Manchester City on Sunday, a difficult end to an otherwise vaguely encouraging week for Freddie Ljungberg’s side.
Interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg oversaw Arsenal’s first win under his tenure against West Ham on Monday in the Premier League. They then drew with Standard Liege to top their Europa League group.
Just as Arsenal are getting some momentum, they face Premier League champions Manchester City. The away side are big favourites to win, and Arsenal really have nothing to lose.
Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup and any team news for the clash.
Bernd Leno will start. Though Emi Martinez is doing a decent job making saves, it was too easy to put him under pressure against Liege. The Arsenal defence seem to trust more in Leno’s distribution.
Sead Kolasinac will start at left-back, with Kieran Tierney missing through injury. Hector Bellerin is still out too, so Calum Chambers should start on the right, as Ainsley Maitland-Niles looked shaky in his start on Thursday.
That doesn’t leave many options at centre-back. Rob Holding is out with injury, Konstantinos Mavropanos looked rusty on Thursday, Chambers is at right-back, Shkodran Mustafi is too much of a risk. David Luiz and Sokratis Papasthopoulos are the two remaining.
Lucas Torreira and Mesut Özil will return to the team after their midweek rest. Granit Xhaka is out with a concussion, so Matteo Guendouzi will probably take his place. Dani Ceballos is still out until Boxing Day.
Joe Willock and Emile Smith Rowe are both options, but Willock’s mistake on Thursday puts added pressure on him for such a big game and Smith Rowe is yet to play a senior game in the middle (his best position) this season.
Gabriel Martinelli should start on the left, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front and Nicolas Pepe on the right. Pepe shook off a knock against West Ham United to be available for the City match.
Alexandre Lacazette could still start ahead of one of the wingers, with Aubameyang moving out wide. Given how well the front three worked on Monday though, it would be strange to switch it up now.
Again, there are some alternative youth options. Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka are all available. They all played on Thursday though, and throwing them into such a big game is a risk we don’t expect Arsenal to take.