Mikel Arteta rotates his lineup to face Sunderland, with only Ben White and Martin Odegaard keeping their spots.
As expected, Mikel Arteta has rested most of his Premier League starters, retaining Ben White and Martin Odegaard in the lineup to face Sunderland. The manager makes nine changes, with Nicolas Pepe, Emile Smith Rowe and Folarin Balogun among those playing.
Calum Chambers, who was expected to play this match, misses out from the squad altogether, meaning Arteta was forced to select one of his usual starters in Ben White to slot in at centre-back. Rob Holding plays alongside him, while Nuno Tavares and compatriot Cedric Soares take up the full-back roles.
🚨 TEAM NEWS!
🏴 Balogun starts
🇪🇬 Elneny in midfield
🏴 Holding in defence
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 21, 2021
Bernd Leno is fit to start the game after a few weeks out with a minor problem. Aaron Ramsdale finds himself on the substitutes bench. Arteta has made some interesting selections in central midfield. From the looks of it, it seems like the Gunners are setting up in a 4-3-3 formation, similar to how they played earlier in the season.
In that shape, Mohamed Elneny sits at the base of midfield with Odegaard and Smith Rowe slotting in on either side of the Egyptian. Meanwhile, Arteta has decided to call up exciting midfielder Charlie Patino and names him among the substitutes.
In attack, Nicolas Pepe starts a game after some time on the sidelines as he takes up his customary role on the right-hand side. Eddie Nketiah is preferred on the left, while Folarin Balogun, after a long spell with the U-23s, gets drafted to lead the line.
Confirmed Arsenal Lineup (4-3-3) – Leno; Cedric, White, Holding, Tavares; Odegaard, Elneny, Smith-Rowe; Pepe, Balogun, Nketiah