Nicolas Pepe could make his full debut while Alexandre Lacazette could be benched, with Unai Emery set to ring in the changes against Burnley.
Arsenal take on Burnley for their first game of the season at the Emirates as Unai Emery looks set to ring some changes from their victory away to Newcastle United. As many key players were missing from the first game, Emery might bring back some key players to the side. Nicolas Pepe could be handed his full debut in front of the Emirates faithful.
David Luiz is also likely to come in for his Arsenal debut. Calum Chambers could be the player to be sacrificed for Luiz’s inclusion. Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney all remain injured for this game. However, left-back Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Ozil are back in the squad after some off-field problems leading them to miss the first game of the season.
Emery was questioned about many things during his customary pre-game press conference. However, one of the main issue remained the inclusion of Ozil and Kolasinac after last week’s issues and on whether the players were fit mentally after the incident remained one of the focus.
Emery responded and said, “If they are training each day consistently and they are with normal work in each training, I am going to decide and achieve the best solution in each moment. For example, it’s positive that they’re with us now.”
Bernd Leno is a sure starter between the posts. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is set to continue at right-back, and this is likely going to be the case until Bellerin returns. Emery looks very much likely to stick with a back four as opposed to a back-three he used in several games last season. Luiz might come in for Chambers and partner Sokratis at the heart of Arsenal’s defence.
Nacho Monreal gave a seasoned performance against Newcastle, and did enough to retain his place at left-back. However, with Kolasinac back in full training and mentally fit as Emery suggested, there could be a tricky decision over the left-back slot. Going by form and current scenario, Emery might find it safe to stick with Monreal for the time being, giving Kolasinac some more time to gel in.
Joe Willock’s impressive performance in the last game might not be enough for the youngster to retain his place. Dani Ceballos could be given his first start and full debut. He will form part of a midfield trio involving Granit Xhaka, who had minor bruises after the last game, and Frenchman Matteo Guendouzi.
Lacazette might have got the nod in this game if Arsenal had depleted attacking options. However, that is not the case, so Emery is unlikely to take any risks with Lacazette and hand Pepe his full debut. Nelson could retain his place on the left flank, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be Arsenal’s central striker against Burnley.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ceballos; Pepe, Aubameyang, Nelson