Footballbible on Facebook and Twitter get up to date football-related news from the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and other leagues around the World. News From Chelsea, Everton, Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool.
Arsenal return from the international break with a trip to Manchester City, their third big-six away fixture in four matches, so how will they lineup vs Manchester City?
Facing Liverpool at Anfield in consecutive games before the visit of Sheffield United, things aren’t getting any easier for Mikel Arteta’s side in the coming games. They face two trips to Manchester in a fortnight to play City and United in the Premier League.
First up, it’s City. Arsenal are in the rather unusual position of leading the big-six clubs in the table right now, despite sitting fourth, with only Everton, Aston Villa and Leicester City ahead. But Pep Guardiola’s side (14th) will want to fix that as soon as possible.
The hosts definitely have the edge in the head-to-head for this fixture. Arsenal may have won the last one, but they lost the previous seven in a row.
Arteta will surely try and pick his best side for this one, with no real reason to hold back. Let’s take a look at our predicted lineup vs Manchester City.
Predicted Arsenal lineup vs Manchester City
As usual, this is the easiest position in the entire team to predict. Bernd Leno will start. Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson is likely to make the bench, but Leno is starting every game regardless of the competition at the moment.
If Rúnarsson is going to get games before January, it’s likely to be in the Europa League group stage. Even then, Arteta probably won’t drop Leno until the team have a few wins on the board.
Right now, there are no guarantees on the availability of Kieran Tierney, but it looks like he might miss out. A Scotland teammate tested positive for Covid, and even though Tierney tested negative, he’s in isolation.
Sead Kolasinac will probably take his place, even though he was on the market for a sale at the end of the European transfer window.
Gabriel and David Luiz will form a centre-back partnership once again, with Hector Bellerin on the right. With Bukayo Saka in midfield, this gives Arsenal the flexibility to switch to a back five, with Saka dropping back and Kolasinac shifting into a three.
Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi are finally back in training, and Pablo Mari should join them imminently. But it seems a bit too soon for any of the three to feature in this match. After their respective serious long-term injuries, they’ll need time.
That’s not even the end of the list of current centre-backs. There’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who is likely to miss out on the Premier League squad. William Saliba is available but still waiting for his debut. Rob Holding is also an option.
We still don’t even have any pictures of him in an Arsenal shirt, but I’m expecting Thomas Partey to start.
Partey was already in full flow for Atletico Madrid in the early stages of the season, so he doesn’t need to build match sharpness. He’ll need fans to cut him some slack early on as he settles with a new team, but he’s also used to these high-profile games.
As mentioned, I think Saka will join the midfield to allow Arsenal the flexibility to switch between formations. The third midfield spot is the hardest to call.
Arteta could play Granit Xhaka as the deepest midfielder with Partey in a box-to-box role, or have Partey anchoring the midfield with Dani Ceballos ahead of him.
It all depends on how he plans to use the Ghana international. I’m going with Ceballos for his one, for his pressing game.
There’s a bit of a disparity here between what I think Arsenal should play and what I think they will play.
After watching the final 30 minutes against Sheffield United, I think it’s clear the team are at their best as an attacking force with Aubameyang through the middle and Nicolas Pepe on the right. But I just don’t see Arteta dropping both Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah.
As a result, I’m expecting Lacazette through the middle, Aubameyang back out on the left and Willian on the right. Despite Pepe’s goal last time out.