Arsenal prepares themselves for their blockbuster, year ending clash with leaders Liverpool as the Gunners seek three points and keep pace with Chelsea.
Arsenal endured a disappointing evening when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton just a few days ago. One one hand we have the growing issues with Arsenal’s form, there’s also a major defensive injury crisis to consider. The , in particular, have left the squad depth thin, and Emery is unable to rely upon his trusted regulars due to their absence.
With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also joining the list of injured players, Arsenal will have to rely on those who are available. As for the defensive injuries, there wasn’t much relief after, as heading into the Liverpool clash, Emery still has no player returning and providing him with a timely boost. Thankfully, he still has the likes of Sokratis and Koscielny for central defenders, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles could fill in at a fullback role.
The main subject after the Brighton game had been that of Ozil and the curiosity of his involvement against Liverpool has become the talking point of the press conference. Emery was asked repeatedly about Ozil and the half-time substitution as well as his possible involvement against Liverpool.
“But for me, we cannot only speak for one player. For me, every player is the same. We can talk also, maybe one player now who didn’t play a lot… Jenkinson. Or Lichtsteiner or Mustafi or Kolasinac or Matteo or Mesut or Aubameyang or Lacazette or Nketiah.”
But it does look like Emery would include Ozil in the starting lineup, for without him Arsenal would certainly lack the necessary creative influence on the pitch. This is how the Arsenal team might lineup against Liverpool.
Bernd Leno came in for some criticism for his display against Brighton, although he did not do anything to jeopardise his place in the team so he will be in goal. Hector Bellerin remains absent and considering Lichtsteiner’s performance in the last game, there might be a place for Ainsley Maitland-Niles at right back.
Sead Kolasinac is fit and will take his place at left-back. Laurent Koscielny will again provide cover for the absence of Shkodran Mustafi and will partner Sokratis in central defence. This is considering Emery sets up a four-man defensive unit, which if its a three man unit, then Granit Xhaka or Stephan Lichtsteiner might come in.
The way it looks so far, Emery will go with a four-man defence, meaning Granit Xhaka can re-take his place in central midfield. Emery is likely to ditch the three-man midfield unit for the Liverpool game and instead add a creative force up ahead. That could lead to Guendouzi starting the game from the bench, and it will be Lucas Torreira who will partner Xhaka in the middle.
Emery, irrespective of his tactical decisions will know that Ozil can provide with the creative influence needed and hence the German might find a place in the starting lineup. Ozil could be joined by Aaron Ramsey who could be the No.10 for the side. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will definitely start from the left, and Alexandre Lacazette will start as Arsenal’s striker.