Arsenal are looking to bounce back from their Europa League exit as they travel to Portsmouth for the FA Cup on Monday, the final trophy they can still win this season.
Arsenal face Portsmouth in the fifth round of the FA Cup, travelling to the League One side’s home ground of Fratton Park.
The Gunners are mathematically out of the Premier League title race, out of Europe and the League Cup is now over, so this is the last chance to lift some silverware in Mikel Arteta’s first half a season.
All the same, we’re expecting heavy rotation. A number of players need rests, particularly after extra time on Thursday. Let’s have a look at our predicted Arsenal lineup for the Portsmouth clash.
Bernd Leno took the job of Europa League goalkeeper from Emi Martinez, but that didn’t last very long.
Martinez will presumably play in the FA Cup, both because it’s the last competition left for him and because Leno’s European introduction didn’t help Arsenal avoid elimination.
Someone has to play left-back, and ideally not Bukayo Saka again. The youngster is in great form but every time he has a chance to rest it seems like another injury forces him back into the team again.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles played left-back for the u23s on Friday, for 45 minutes. It seems like that was preparation for this game. Kieran Tierney is in full training but, like Cedric Soares, probably not quite ready.
Similarly, it seems like Hector Bellerin needs a rest. With Soares probably out and Maitland-Niles on the left, that leaves Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
In central defence, there are plenty of candidates at left centre-back. David Luiz is the usual starter, but he could rest for Pablo Mari’s debut or Rob Holding. The latter two played at left centre-back for 45 minutes each with the u23s on Friday.
Mari is probably more likely with Shkodran Mustafi as the only viable candidate on the right if Sokratis is at right-back. The defence is all a bit cobbled together.
Again, expect rotation for the sake of resting players here. Mesut Özil and Granit Xhaka surely can’t start another game, so Joe Willock and Lucas Torreira can take their places. Then Matteo Guendouzi will also probably come in for Dani Ceballos.
Nketiah scored against Everton, then got a full rest from the squad against Olympiacos. Having also scored in the last round of the FA Cup against Bournemouth, I can’t think of any reason he shouldn’t lead the line against Portsmouth.
Reiss Nelson is back, and Arteta suggested he’s ready for action now. He could start on the right with Gabriel Martinelli on the left, allowing Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette a break.