Unai Emery could be without as many as six first-team players when Arsenal face Manchester United in a Gameweek 15 tie at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Arsenal will be hoping to make it 20 games without a loss in all competitions when they travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United on Wednesday night. Unai Emery is sure to be buoyed by the recent results, but will have a couple of issues to deal with before his men lock horns with the Red Devils.
Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal have been back in training for a while now. But, the experienced defenders are believed to still be some way off regaining peak fitness, and are unlikely to line up for Arsenal against Manchester United. Meanwhile, Konstantinos Mavropanos is a definite absentee owing to his groin injury.
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Emery though, has enough cover in his squad to name a strong enough backline that will provide cover to Bernd Leno on Wednesday. Hector Bellerin is nailed on as the first-choice right-back, while Sead Kolasinac’s strong showings of late make him a certain starter on the opposite flank.
Meanwhile, Emery is likely to revert to the 4-2-3-1 formation that yielded dynamic, fast paced football in the second half against Tottenham. And Arsenal’s central defensive partnership should feature Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Rob Holding, with Shkodran Mustafi likely to drop to the bench after a mixed outing this past weekend.
The major absentee for Arsenal though, will be Granit Xhaka, who is suspended after accumulating five yellow cards. In his stead, the impressive Matteo Guendouzi is likely to be deployed in the midfield pivot alongside the reliable Lucas Torreira.
Xhaka’s absence leaves Emery with a big decision to choose his captain as well. With Petr Cech unlikely to start and Mesut Ozil being doubtful, the responsibility of leading Arsenal against Manchester United is likely to fall on the shoulders of Aaron Ramsey.
The Welshman’s future may be up in the air, but his game changing display against Spurs was proof enough that he is still committed to Arsenal. Ramsey should start in the no. 10 role, with Ozil still not 100 per cent, as confirmed by Emery in his pre-match press conference.
“I said yesterday he’s had backache since last Tuesday. He couldn’t play in Kiev or yesterday. At the moment, I don’t know if he can play in Manchester. Today he was working alone, I don’t know if he’s OK for Wednesday.”
Giving Ramsey company in attack, should be Alex Iwobi and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with the latter likely to be deployed as a winger now that Alexandre Lacazette is fully fit. The Frenchman should indeed lead the line for Arsenal, with former Manchester United playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan dropping to the bench.