Arsenal face Manchester City in a rearranged fixture on Wednesday, on the back of a three-game winning run in the league.
Arsenal and City come into this match in very different situations. City are much further ahead in the table, but lost to United over the weekend, their second defeat in four league games. Meanwhile, Arsenal have 10 points from their last 12, but they sit in ninth.
The impending European ban is taking the drive out of City’s Premier League performances. They can’t win the title, but there’s also little incentive to secure top four. They have the FA Cup and the Champions League to focus on instead.
All the same, their recent record against Arsenal is near-perfect. If they have Kevin de Bruyne available, as expected, it really doesn’t look good.
Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup as Mikel Arteta gives it his best shot against his former colleague in the opposing dugout.
It’s Bernd Leno, as always. Arsenal’s man of the match at the weekend, and he’ll probably have to be again on Wednesday. Emi Martinez will wait for the FA Cup trip to Sheffield next week.
Kieran Tierney and Cedric Soares are closing in on comebacks, with Tierney the closer of the two. He didn’t make the squad on Sunday though, so it’s hard to see him starting here. Shkodran Mustafi has a knock, joining Sead Kolasinac and Calum Chambers out injured.
That doesn’t leave a huge list of options. Bukayo Saka will play left-back, with Pablo Mari and David Luiz taking up their centre-back roles again.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos or Hector Bellerin should play right-back. It could be either, with Bellerin’s injury problems right now. Sokratis played the last two matches but Bellerin is a better fit for this game specifically.
Lucas Torreira probably won’t play again this season, so he’s out of contention. Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos and Mesut Özil are all available for another start though. That’s what we expect to happen, with Arteta opting for experience.
Joe Willock and Matteo Guendouzi are both options as well. Arguably, with Mari in the team, Guendouzi would make a better option than Xhaka in midfield. He’s more adept at carrying the ball forward, though a less-effective presser out of possession.
It’s hard to see Eddie Nketiah starting over Alexandre Lacazette again after the former drew a blank on Sunday whilst Lacazette scored off the bench.
Gabriel Martinelli was probably the only Arsenal forward to perform against City in the home game, but who does he come in for?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will play, Nicolas Pepe is more likely to drop out for Reiss Nelson than Martinelli. The young Brazilian would have to replace Lacazette, with Aubameyang moving centrally. It’s possible, but it would be a surprise.