Unai Emery will likely go with the formulas experimented during pre-season training, when Arsenal take on Manchester City at the Emirates on Sunday.
Arsenal have one of their most significant challenges of the season with their opening game against Manchester City at the Emirates on Sunday to kick-start the Unai Emery era.
The biggest concern for the Arsenal boss was Aaron Ramsey’s involvement in the game, owing to the Welshman’s recent absence due to a calf injury. But. Emery has confirmed his return to full training this week, and with a good pre-season under his belt, Ramsey could be donning the armband against the champions.
Another problem area is the left-back slot. With Sead Kolasinac’s knee injury keeping him out of action for the next two months, Nacho Monreal is the natural replacement for the Bosnian. Monreal, however, came back from the World Cup with a knock and was unable to take part in any pre-season training or matches since his return.
The Spaniard did return to full training a few days ago, but could be shot of fitness for the City game. As a result, Ainsley Maitland-Niles could deputise for the time being, and Emery confirmed he is looking at the young, versatile player as an option.
“Today, Nacho Monreal began to train with the team. As well, Danny Welbeck has come in this week, but on Sunday it will be too early to start playing him. The other players are OK, and we are working on the possibility to work with Ainsley, who has experience in this [left-back] position. We want to give him confidence,” stated Emery during his pre-match press conference.
Emery ended by confirming that he will make a late decision on Sunday on who he might start. But, owing to match fitness and sharpness, Maitland-Niles could well start.
New Arsenal goalkeeper, Bernd Leno could get the nod over Petr Cech for Arsenal’s opener against Manchester City. Both goalkeepers have shown good form and command over the post during pre-season. But, it looks likely that Leno will be the club’s first choice for the season over Cech.
Considering a 4-2-3-1 formation, Emery is set to go with a central defensive partnership of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi. Hector Bellerin should complete the backline, with Stephan Lichtsteiner likely to be his backup this season.
Aaron Ramsey looks like a definite starter as part of the midfield two, and the Arsenal boss will make a late decision on his partner. Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira are options there, as Emery will want the second midfielder to be the anchorman for the team. Torreira is the likeliest candidate to do so against Manchester City.
Arsenal have plenty of options in attack, and Emery, to bring the best out of Mesut Ozil, will likely place him in his preferred No. 10 position. The German should be flanked by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the right. Alexandre Lacazette will start for Arsenal as their central striker.