Unai Emery could opt to start both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in attack as Arsenal take on Manchester United on Sunday.
Arsenal faltered and how against Rennes in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie in the UEFA Europa League. But, they have no time to sulk over the result, with the Gunners now set to prepare for the visit of Manchester United. Lucas Torreira’s suspension complicates matters further.
Bernd Leno has been superb and should retain his spot in front of the Arsenal goal on Sunday. In defence, Sokratis received his marching orders against Rennes but is available, although Unai Emery might not want to start the hot-headed Greek international against Manchester United.
This means Shkodran Mustafi, who was pushed to the right-back slot against Rennes, should come in as the centre-back alongside Laurent Koscielny. Nacho Monreal will likely be preferred on the left while Ainsley Maitland-Niles gets a shot at right-back, with Hector Bellerin on the sidelines and Henrikh Mkhitaryan too much of a risk when played in the said position.
Torreira’s absence means Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi will most certainly start at the base of the midfield. But, we should see a tweak in the system based on the situation. Mesut Ozil was brilliant against Rennes and could be rewarded with a start against Manchester United.
Alex Iwobi should partner Ozil in the central attacking position. And, we could see what has been unfortunately a rare sight. Arsenal are desperate for a win and that could see Emery opt to start both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in a two-pronged attack.
The two strikers have rarely started together, but their partnership has produced great results. The fixture has immense importance and could greatly influence how the race for the top four takes shape.
Arsenal are a point behind Manchester United, but Emery downplayed the importance of the fixture in his pre-match conference, stating that it is one of the 38 games the team has to play while admitting that they must perform in order to gain an advantage in the top four race.
“It is not a definitive [match]. We are in a way of being consistent, we have 38 matches and Sunday is against Manchester United against a team who also battle for 38 matches and it is important to do it in this moment because this three points are for us or for them. I don’t think it is definitive, but we need to show and push on Sunday to take more possibility to finish in the top four.”
The shape should be a 4-2-2-2, with Lacazette and Aubameyang upfront. But, Emery might also opt for a 4-2-3-1, with Lacazette upfront and Aubameyang out on the wing. That will see Ozil play the number 10 role, with Alex Iwobi on the right.