Arsenal pay West Ham United a visit at the London Stadium on Saturday in what will be a crucial encounter for both the capital sides.
Arsenal will be hoping to continue building the winning momentum, when they travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham United on Saturday afternoon. And, Unai Emery will be relieved to have a number of players returning to his squad this week.
December saw Arsenal’s campaign being severely disrupted by injuries to key defensive personnel, But, Unai Emery can heave a sigh of relief after six first-team players returned to full training this week.
Of the ones dearly missed by Arsenal have been the likes of Hector Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi, both of whom have returned alongside Nacho Monreal, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Laurent Koscielny, giving the Arsenal manager several options at the back.
Speaking abouot the returning defenders in his pre-match press conference, Emery said, “This week they are working with us with quality, Mustafi, Monreal and Bellerin. Tomorrow we need to do the last training before the West Ham game. This training session is important [to work out who can play].”
It is unlikely that Emery will be willing to risk all of his returning defenders, especially with Mavropanos believed to be still some way short of match fitness. However, he could use a few of them from the start while the rest could be an option from the bench.
The big changes should be at the heart of the Arsenal defence, and at right-back, with Bellerin’s return, in particular, having the ability to create the biggest impact. In central defence, Emery now has all of his options to choose from, although with one eye on the clash against Chelsea next week, the manager will be cautious with his centre-backs.
As a result, Sokratis Papastathopoulos is likely to be rested after being overworked recently, with Koscielny and Mustafi lining up together in a two-man partnership for the first time this season. On the left side of the Arsenal defence, Sead Kolasinac will likely start, despite Monreal’s availability.
Meanwhile, after appearing in Arsenal’s FA Cup clash with Blackpool, Petr Cech is likely to return to the bench, with regular No. 1 Bernd Leno set to start. Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka are set to return to their central midfield roles after being rested for last weekend’s cup tie.
In another key team news, in addition to the five defenders, Mesut Ozil has made his return to full training after a series of niggling injuries and. Emery has chosen to drop Ozil for some key games this season, implying both injuries and tactical tweaks as reasons. However, with the German back in the side, there could be a likelihood he may start against West Ham.
The Arsenal boss was also quizzed about Ozil as part of his team news update and he said, “Mesut Ozil is also training with us. We’ve got the same injuries with Welbeck and Holding. Mkhitaryan has been training with us At the moment we are better than we were a week ago.”
Alex Iwobi has found his form again and will likely start on the right side of the Arsenal attack. Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are the options for the N0. 10 role, although it is likely Emery would go with the German, now that he is fit. The rest of the side should be completed by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, with the former being Arsenal’s striker.