Arsenal face Norwich City in their first game back at the Emirates Stadium following football’s return, after consecutive wins last week.
Despite playing four games since the restart, as many as any other English team, Arsenal are still waiting on their first match at home. That fixture finally arrives in the form of a visit from Norwich City on Wednesday.
Mikel Arteta’s side are in a bit of good form after their initial defeats to Manchester City and Brighton. Last week, they overcame Southampton with a 2-0 win before eliminating Sheffield United from the FA Cup.
Norwich are bottom of the table and struggling, but I wouldn’t expect Arteta to let up. Every point on the board is vital right now, so he’ll need to pick a strong team and go for the win.
Arteta can always make his five substitutes if it turns out more comfortably than we usually expect. Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup for the match.
This remains an easy call, with Emi Martinez performing well as Bernd Leno’s backup. Leno is only out for another four weeks, but Martinez is clearly keen to make an impression in the meantime.
David Luiz will probably miss out with the knock he picked up at the weekend. Rob Holding can come back in for him alongside Shkodran Mustafi. The third spot is a bit of a mystery.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos is back, but he’s only played one minute since the restart so far. Plus, it’s hard to see how he fits in with Mustafi and Holding in the 3-4-3.
So far, Holding has played in the middle with Mustafi on the right, but Sokratis surely can’t play on the left, as a right-footed centre-back who isn’t exactly great in possession anyway.
I’m predicting Sead Kolasinac will start instead, with Sokratis waiting for his chance whenever Mustafi needs a rest.
Midfield and Wing-Backs
After a couple of games out, it’s very possible Matteo Guendouzi comes back into the team. But we honestly have no reference points to make that prediction.
We don’t know what punishment Arsenal handed out, we can’t look at Mikel Arteta’s past dealings with this sort of situation (because there aren’t any). We’ll just keep assuming he isn’t involved until we hear otherwise.
Granit Xhaka and Joe Willock are both in good form, but I’d expect Dani Ceballos to come in after he dropped out of the starting lineup at the weekend before coming on to score. Willock is the more likely of the three to miss out.
As for the wing-back positions, Cedric Soares is finally available. However, Hector Bellerin will probably continue to start for now, as Arsenal ease Cedric in. On the other side, if Kieran Tierney is ready for another game, you play Kieran Tierney.
Whilst he is in good form, Nicolas Pepe started all three of the last three away games. Meanwhile, Reiss Nelson has 26 minutes on the pitch since football’s return. It’s surely time for him to get a chance to start.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got a chance to rest against Sheffield United, after 90 minutes in each of the three games prior. He should come back into the lineup on the left. Bukayo Saka has earned a rest after playing 357 of 360 minutes so far.
Eddie Nketiah is in better form than Alexandre Lacazette right now and he only played the final 23 minutes at Sheffield so he’s the more likely to start this one. Gabriel Martinelli is out for the season.