Still in search of their first Premier League win since the start of November, let’s take a look at our predicted Arsenal lineup vs Chelsea.
After a comfortable defeat to Manchester City in the League Cup on Tuesday, Arsenal only have the Premier League to worry about for the next few games.
That might be a good thing, because the league is becoming a genuine concern. Arsenal are dropping further and further down the table, to the point where they could be in the relegation zone on January 1st.
Chelsea aren’t exactly the ideal opponents to arrest that dreadful run of form, but a result against them would certainly build a bit of confidence. Here’s our predicted Arsenal lineup vs Chelsea for Saturday’s Boxing Day match.
If there were any doubts about Mikel Arteta’s first-choice goalkeeper before the game in midweek, there aren’t anymore. Bernd Leno will return to the starting lineup, and you’d imagine the only reason he’d drop out from now on would be a fitness problem.
Arteta’s usual back-three of Kieran Tierney, Gabriel Magalhaes, and Rob Holding will probably continue to make the starting lineup on Saturday.
The only realistic alternatives are either David Luiz or perhaps Calum Chambers playing his first Premier League game since he faced Chelsea last December pre-injury. But Holding was rested on Tuesday and I just can’t see Arteta dropping Gabriel for this one.
Granit Xhaka is back from suspension, and much as he’s an unpopular figure amongst Arsenal fans at the moment, I think he’ll start.
It’s not as if Mohamed Elneny and Dani Ceballos were particularly impressive in Xhaka’s absence, Ainsley Maitland-Niles was disappointing, and the one midfielder in good form – Emile Smith Rowe – keeps getting ignored for no reason.
Ceballos will probably make the lineup alongside Xhaka, as he did in the cup final win over Chelsea last season.
In the wing-back positions, I’d expect Bukayo Saka and Hector Bellerin. Both got a complete rest in midweek.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still an injury doubt and Gabriel Martinelli’s knock in midweek, it’s hard to imagine either of them starting this match. Hopefully, Martinelli makes the squad, at least.
Reiss Nelson’s situation is also a bit of a mystery, as he seems to be fit but just not featuring. Eddie Nketiah is available, but Alexandre Lacazette’s goal against Manchester City probably pushes him ahead in the pecking order.
On either side of Lacazette, I’d expect Willian and Nicolas Pepe to start.