Arsenal travel to the Etihad for a crucial encounter with Man City and Unai Emery might adapt to a similar strategy which saw the Gunners beat Chelsea recently
Arsenal got back into the top four during midweek courtesy of their 2-1 win over Cardiff City as well as Chelsea’s massive loss to Bournemouth, meaning the Gunners had an advantage over the Blues through goal difference. Chelsea, however, ran out 5-0 winners over Huddersfield, meaning Arsenal need a win and need to score plenty of goals to get back into the fourth spot.
On to the game against Manchester City, Arsenal are boosted by the news that Laurent Koscielny has not broken his jaw and returned to full training this week. Emery might ship Koscielny back into the starting lineup to partner Shkodran Mustafi and leave Monreal on the bench.
Along with Koscielny, Henrikh Mkhitaryan too has recovered from his foot injury and might feature, probably from the bench at some stage.
The press conference leading to this crucial tie was dominated by the prospect of including new signing Denis Suarez in the starting lineup. However, Emery’s response was cryptic as usual and did not give away anything specific on the possibility of Suarez starting.
He said, “I am thinking of all the players, and I will make my decision tomorrow, but if he starts I have confidence in him.”
As it looks, Suarez might not immediately get the nod into the starting lineup and might be named among the substitutes for this trip. Emery is expected to name a strong side and is supposed to use tactics much similar to the Chelsea game a couple of weeks ago to get a result out of this game, meaning we can expect a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Aaron Ramsey starting for Arsenal.
Bernd Leno is expected to be named as the starting goalkeeper. Hector Bellerin’s injury means there is every chance for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to feature for the rest of the season in his place, although his inclusion is subject to a late fitness test. Should the youngster fail to clear the fitness test, Lichtsteiner is in line to start again at right-back.
On the other side, Sead Kolasinac is expected to start at left-back, while Emery will field Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny at the heart of the defence. In the scenario that Koscielny is not fit enough to start, Emery has the likes of Nacho Monreal and Konstantinos Mavropanos to call upon, although expect the Frenchman to start.
Emery will likely field a four-man midfield, much similar to the Chelsea game. That could see Ramsey, Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka play together. That leaves Mesut Ozil out of the starting lineup and on the bench for the game.
Arsenal’s top two goalscorers for the season, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are expected to form a dual striking partnership up front against Man City.