Arsenal return to Premier League action with a match against Manchester City on Sunday, so let’s take a look at our predicted lineup.
With the Benfica Europa League tie still very much in the balance at 1-1, Arsenal have to briefly shift their focus to facing the Premier League leaders.
Manchester City are 10 points clear at the top of the table on the back of a 17-game winning streak, defeating Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal during that run. So this game is evidently no big deal.
Given the busy schedule at the moment, and the fact he’s just named the same team twice in a row, we’re expecting a few changes for this one.
Here’s our predicted Arsenal lineup to face Manchester City.
Bernd Leno will start as usual. After his run of clean sheets at the start of the year, he’s gone a couple of games without one, but you can hardly blame him given the chances he’s faced.
Mat Ryan should make the bench.
After his substitute appearance on Thursday, this would be a good time to reintroduce Kieran Tierney. Getting him up to speed ahead of a tough fixture list is key.
Rob Holding could come back in to give David Luiz a rest, but we’re predicting another start for Gabriel Magalhaes at left-centre-back. You never know, but Manchester City doesn’t seem like the best game to reintroduce Pablo Mari after injury.
We’re not expecting many changes in the middle, largely due to the lack of alternatives.
Without Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny is the only real option to replace Granit Xhaka or Dani Ceballos. But Partey should be back before too long to give Ceballos a rest, and Xhaka rarely seems to need one, so we’re predicting them both to start again for now.
Similarly, Nicolas Pepe can offer Smith Rowe a break on the left.
We’re clearly getting into the territory of overplaying Bukayo Saka a bit, but Arsenal also just can’t afford to rotate their entire front three at once.
Taking Saka out would probably mean moving Pepe to the right (despite playing all his recent games on the left), and putting Willian or Gabriel Martinelli on the left, which is a lot of changes at once. So we’re predicting another start for Saka.