Arsenal will be without Aaron Ramsey for the next few games, with Unai Emery looking to bring Mesut Ozil in the Welshman’s place starting against Crystal Palace.
Arsenal are aiming to take over the third spot on the table after Tottenham Hotspur’s loss to Manchester City on Saturday. The Gunners currently sit in fourth place ahead of Chelsea, albeit only on goal difference. A win over Crystal Palace is deemed necessary, while any dropped points could give Chelsea and Manchester United the advantage in the top four race.
Ahead of the match, Unai Emery’s focus seems to be on rotating his side effectively, with the fixtures piling up, especially after Arsenal’s win over Napoli to progress to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals. In an interview with the club’s official website, the manager was asked about his rotation policy.
“First [I ask the players] how they are with injuries, second is how they are with physical circumstances, and third is the opposition and what they are demanding from us for the match. Also, how we can improve our ideas, style, and capacity to beat them.”
“We work with a lot of data about our players and the opposition players. After our tactical decisions for the next match, we take the decisions for the line-up for the next game.”
The shuffles will begin right at the back, with Bernd Leno set to take over from Petr Cech, who started against Napoli during the midweek, in the Arsenal goal. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac should be preferred in the two wing-backs slots.
The central defence will undoubtedly see one change, considering Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ suspension, especially if Emery decides to play three at the back. Konstantinos Mavropanos started the last game in the back-three, but he is unlikely to do so against Crystal Palace.
That could mean the trio of Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal will be preferred to form the defensive line. There could yet be surprises, considering Arsenal will be playing in a congested fixture list between now and the end of the season.
Central midfield is the tricky bit for Emery as he faces a dilemma with his available options. Granit Xhaka reportedly suffered a knock against Napoli, and is a doubt. The other major concern surrounds Aaron Ramsey, who picked up a hamstring injury on Thursday, which rules him out of the game against Palace.
The restrictions in options mean Emery will likely field Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira as his preferred pairing in the middle of the park, with Mohamed Elneny being the backup player on the bench.
Mesut Ozil is the likely candidate to replace Ramsey in the no. 10 role, although there is the option of Henrikh Mkhitaryan as well. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette will likely start together again upfront. Alex Iwobi will be an option to help from the bench, alongside Mkhitaryan.