Arsenal host Watford at the Emirates Stadium in the final game of the Premier League season on Sunday, without a huge amount to play for.
The Champions League places are long gone, and after the poor result against Aston Villa in midweek, the Europa League spots are also out of reach. However, there are still some reasons for Arsenal to go for a win.
Firstly, the Gunners have the chance to overtake two of the teams above them on the final day, if results go their way. That would bring in a few million pounds extra in prize money.
Secondly, beating Watford would almost certainly send them down to the Championship. There’s no real benefit to Arsenal there, it would just be funny.
Perhaps most importantly, however, it’s a chance to rebuild momentum ahead of the FA Cup final. This is essentially a warm-up game for that match, and I certainly expect Mikel Arteta to take it very seriously as a result.
Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup for Sunday’s match.
Bernd Leno is returning to full training next week, but still unlikely to feature in either of the final games of the season. Emi Martinez will hold down the spot as he has done impressively so far.
With Shkodran Mustafi out for the final week of the season, Rob Holding is the most likely player to come in. He played against Aston Villa in midweek, and should start this weekend and in the cup final as well.
David Luiz will take up the central role, whilst Kieran Tierney should come in on the left. Sead Kolasinac hasn’t done well enough to justify selection in the back three.
Midfield and Wing-Backs
With Tierney in the back three, Bukayo Saka should take up the spot at left-wing-back. Though it’s also not impossible Mikel Arteta opts for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, after his positive performance in the position in the FA Cup semi-final.
Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos should start in the middle. Xhaka got a rare rest for the first half against Villa, but he’s just too important to drop for either of the final two games.
Hector Bellerin will come in for Cedric Soares, who needed to offer more than just early crosses in the last fixture.
Again, I’m expecting Arteta to go full strength in attack. That means Nicolas Pepe coming back into the side, after his rest in midweek. The winger had started all three of the previous games against Spurs, Liverpool and City.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will take up a position on the left, and he needs at least three goals to have a shot at the Golden Boot this season. Alexandre Lacazette will start up front, with Eddie Nketiah dropping to the bench.