As Mikel Arteta’s side prepare for the second game of their Europa League campaign on Thursday, let’s have a look at our Arsenal predicted lineup vs Dundalk.
Arsenal are in a poor run of form in the Premier League, losing three of their last four matches. But things are going better in the other two competitions, with a League Cup win over Liverpool and three points away to Rapid Vienna in the Europa League opening game.
Next up, Mikel Arteta’s side face Dundalk, the most winnable group stage fixture of the lot on paper. Nothing other than three points will be acceptable on Thursday, which does add a little bit of pressure in its own way.
Arsenal also need a good attacking performance, to show they’re capable of one. But at the same time, there’s a match against Manchester United at the weekend to worry about. Let’s run through our Arsenal predicted lineup vs Dundalk.
Bernd Leno had a bad game against Rapid Vienna last week, but he kept his place in the Premier League starting lineup to face Leicester City, and I’d expect him to start again for this game against Dundalk.
Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson will get his chance eventually, but I still feel it will be towards the end of the group stage, when Arsenal’s position is hopefully more secure.
Arsenal have a big problem at centre-back. They’re missing Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari and Rob Holding through injury, with David Luiz seemingly joining them. Neither Sokratis Papastathopoulos nor William Saliba are eligible for this fixture, missing out on the squad.
That leaves Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel Magalhaes as the only full-time senior centre-backs. The only other full-time centre-back who is even eligible is Zane Monlouis, a 17-year-old who hasn’t broken into the u23s yet.
Every other eligible youth centre-back is on loan right now. The likes of Jonathan Dinzeyi, who joined in the summer, can’t make the Europa League squad B-list because they haven’t been with Arsenal for 2 years, which is one of the restrictions.
Of course, there are other options. Someone like Mohamed Elneny or Granit Xhaka could drop back. Sead Kolašinac will probably play the left-centre-back/left-back hybrid role. But most likely, he starts alongside Mustafi and Gabriel, which is an issue with the United game at the weekend.
Cedric Soares will come back in at right-back, so at least Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerín can rest ahead of the trip to Old Trafford.
After consecutive starts, Thomas Partey will probably drop to the bench for this one. You’d think Bukayo Saka also needs a rest, if he’s even available at all after his injury concern at the weekend. As well as those two, I get the feeling Arteta will rest Dani Ceballos, after his recent knock.
That leaves Mohamed Elneny to come in, probably starting alongside Granit Xhaka. Ainsley Maitland-Niles should also get his first start of the month, playing that left-central-midfield/wing-back role.
Joe Willock is available, and Emile Smith Rowe is slowly returning to fitness. But Smith Rowe is more likely to make the bench for now. I wouldn’t completely rule out Willock starting over Xhaka, to give all three of the likely starting midfielders this weekend a rest.
Eddie Nketiah should get a start, after Alexandre Lacazette had a couple of chances to make his case this week. Reiss Nelson has to start, and it’s strange he hasn’t even had a chance in the last two matches after returning from injury.
The third spot will probably be filled by Nicolas Pépé. He didn’t start against Leicester City at the weekend, and you get the feeling Willian will take his place against Manchester United.
Arsenal really shouldn’t need to start Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to get a win over Dundalk.