Arsenal face Leicester City in the League Cup on Wednesday night, knowing a trip to Lincoln or Liverpool awaits the victor in the next round.
After the opening couple of Premier League fixtures, Arsenal enter the League Cup with a game against Leicester City. As both sides qualified for European competition this season, neither had to feature in the second round last week.
Due to the fixture congestion at the moment, we also already know the fourth round draw. Arsenal or Leicester will play away at either Lincoln City or Liverpool. Probably Liverpool, if we’re being honest.
So it’s certainly a tough start to the competition, but Mikel Arteta is still likely to rotate, with league games against West Ham United and Liverpool either side.
Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup for the match and you can keep up-to-date with lineups for all Arsenal teams here.
By Wednesday, Arsenal have a new signing in goal, with Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson joining the club. But the match is so soon after he joins that it’s hard to see him getting a start immediately. Bernd Leno will probably keep his place instead.
This is one area of the pitch where Arsenal don’t have huge options to rotate. David Luiz is back, along with Gabriel Magalhaes and Rob Holding.
After that, you’re looking at debuts for the likes of William Saliba and we thought possibly a youth centre-back like Mark McGuinness but he’s away on loan to Ipswich.
A League Cup game is probably a good chance to introduce Saliba, after the centre-back got some minutes with the u23s on Friday. I’d gamble on Gabriel and Holding starting alongside him, to avoid overplaying Luiz after his injury.
Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari will all miss the game through injury.
Midfield and Wing-Backs
Cedric Soares was the obvious choice on the right to take Hector Bellerin’s place but he’s out injured. Ainsley Maitland-Niles can play instead after he got a rest at the weekend.
I think Bukayo Saka might start in the front three, so that leaves Sead Kolasinac. He’s inching towards a move, but this might keep him in the shop window.
I’m tempted to predict a return for Mesut Özil, but I’m not sure where he fits into the team. If Arteta sticks with his usual formation, Özil could only really get in playing out wide or deeper in midfield than he’s used to.
Similarly, predicting Matteo Guendouzi in the side would be a total guess right now. We have no idea when and if Arteta plans to bring the midfielder back into the squad. Then Lucas Torreira is currently the subject of exit rumours.
That leaves Joe Willock, who has been a regular in all the squads so far without making a start. He should play alongside Mohamed Elneny after Dani Ceballos started at the weekend.
Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah were linking up for plenty of goals with the England u21s over the international break, and they may get the chance to do the same with the Arsenal first team on Wednesday.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette can drop to the bench.
Willian kept his place against West Ham, making his second consecutive start. So that means Nicolas Pepe will probably come into the team on the right against Leicester.
Unfortunately for Reiss Nelson, it’s hard to see how he gets in unless Saka starts in midfield or at wing-back. There’s a lot of competition right now.