After a few league wins, let’s take a look at our Arsenal predicted lineup to face Sunderland in the League Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Mikel Arteta is likely to rotate heavily for this match. Facing League One opposition in the League Cup, the Arsenal manager has to feel he can rely on his backup side to get a result.
It’s worth mentioning that our predicted lineups are likely to get less and less reliable as the Covid cases continue to spread. If Arsenal’s game even goes ahead, we aren’t going to know exactly who can play until the day of the match.
With that all in mind, here’s our Arsenal predicted lineup to face Sunderland.
Bernd Leno has been out for a few games with a groin injury, but he returned to the bench at the weekend against Leeds United. Not a moment too soon, as he should now get a chance to start against Sunderland.
It will be interesting to see whether Arteta opts for Aaron Ramsdale or Arthur Okonkwo on the bench for the game. Perhaps that will tell us a little about how he views this competition.
Cedric Soares came on for Takehiro Tomiyasu against Leeds United, and there’s no point risking Tomiyasu for this game, so it should be a start for Cedric this time.
Nuno Tavares can come in for Kieran Tierney at left-back, with Rob Holding and Calum Chambers getting rare starts in the centre of defence. Pablo Mari is out with Covid.
That will allow Tierney, Gabriel Magalhaes, and Ben White a rare rest ahead of the hectic festive period coming up.
Arsenal also have the option to make a full cast of changes in midfield, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mohamed Elneny, and Emile Smith Rowe coming in.
Smith Rowe probably needs to get a start under his belt after his recent injury, so it’s a different situation for him compared to many of the other Premier League regulars. He needs a game, whilst they need rests.
Among the rested group should be Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey, and Granit Xhaka. Albert Sambi Lokonga is out with Covid.
Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah seem likely to come in on the wings. Neither have been at all popular in Arteta’s recent team selections, but they remain the primary backups on either side.
With no Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Gabriel Martinelli starting the Premier League games on the left, there’s no obvious alternative to Alexandre Lacazette up front.
Personally, I’d love to see Folarin Balogun starting, as would most of the Arsenal fanbase. But I have my doubts Arteta will go for that, and I just get the feeling he’ll opt to start Lacazette and bring Balogun off the bench instead.
That would be a shame, but Balogun will just have to make the most of whatever minutes he can get.