Arsenal host this season’s first North London Derby where Unai Emery will likely field a front-three, with Alexandre Lacazette returning to the lineup.
Arsenal will be looking to make a big statement of intent when they host Tottenham in this season’s first North London Derby. Over the week, in the build-up to this fixture, Unai Emery has hinted at a few changes. Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac could make their return to the starting lineup.
Emery could only start Lacazette in the game against Burnley, as the Frenchman has an ongoing ankle problem since pre-season. Kolasinac, on the other hand, could come in for Nacho Monreal, who joined Real Sociedad this week. Monreal had started all three games so far, and the Liverpool defeat was to be his last in an Arsenal shirt. Kolasinac is expected to fit into the system seamlessly.
On the opposite flank, Ainsley Maitland-Niles is nailed on as the right-back of choice, at least Hector Bellerin returns to the fold. Bernd Leno is the first-choice goalkeeper. Sokratis and David Luiz are expected to retain their central defensive partnership. Rob Holding is yet to make his comeback, while Calum Chambers will be on the bench.
Emery is expected to bring about a change in the entire system from the last game and revert to a three-man midfield. Granit Xhaka, who underperformed in the previous match could lose his place to Lucas Torreira, who could provide the right cover for the backline. Matteo Guendouzi is expected to keep his place alongside Dani Ceballos.
Joe Willock will sit on the bench as Emery is likely to change the shape of the team in this game. Willock’s absence would give room for another attacker upfront. That attacker could be Lacazette, who was the subject of interest during his pre-game press conference.
The big question towards Emery concerned his attacking options. Mesut Ozil is available again, although the manager may show some reluctance to start the German playmaker against Tottenham. However, what the fans have been wanting to see is the trio of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Lacazette and new signing Nicolas Pepe together, something Emery might opt for.
“My decision in each moment is thinking about how we are. For example, with Lacazette, he had a problem with his ankle. This week is the best week of the last three weeks. He’s getting better and feeling better with his ankle; it’s very positive. I think they can start together and they can also play during the match as all three.”
“It depends on how we decide our gameplan. But I am very optimistic about that situation, but not also those three players, even Nelson, Mkhitaryan, Willock, Ozil. We need to be able to make the best decisions, but above all, to have different possibilities with the players.”
Lacazette is expected to come back into the starting lineup to form what looks like a promising partnership with Aubameyang and Pepe. Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Reiss Nelson are all expected to be on the Arsenal bench.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac; Guendouzi, Torreira, Ceballos; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang