Unai Emery will have to find a way to play his team without Alexandre Lacazette after the striker was ruled out for a month.
Arsenal will aim to get back on track and collect three points when they visit Watford on Sunday. It’s been a mixed bag start for the Gunners, who have managed 7 points from their first four games. Unai Emery will want his squad united going forward, especially after their positive result against Tottenham last time out.
Emery will be boosted by the return of vital defensive stars Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney, all of whom trained in the past week. The Watford game, however, will have come too soon for the trio, meaning the Arsenal boss will continue to use Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac as his full-backs.
Bernd Leno is the first-choice goalkeeper for Arsenal. Sokratis and David Luiz are the preferred central defensive partnership at the moment, and they will continue at the heart of the defence, with Calum Chambers being a reliable option on the bench, if needed.
Emery, meanwhile, was asked a series of questions during his pre-match press conference, including about Dani Ceballos and his time so far. The Arsenal manager suggested that Premier League football could be complicated, but urged Ceballos to adapt faster.
He said, “He recognises he needs that adaptation. In each match, each training, it’s very important for him to adapt faster with us, with the new idea, with the new team and new team-mates and opposing teams.”
Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka reportedly suffered knocks during the international break, but have since recovered and are ready for selection. Xhaka though, is likely to miss out, with Torreira starting as the holding midfielder.
Matteo Guendouzi and Ceballos will likely working in tandem on either side of Torreira, with Ceballos offering more creativity. Joe Willock is an option, should Emery decide to change things, but the trio as mentioned earlier are the likeliest of starters.
The big news is the ankle injury suffered by Alexandre Lacazette, who will now return only in October. Emery will have to find a way to field the best attacking side in the Frenchman’s absence. Lacazette’s unavailability though, could open up a chance for Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli to shine.
Nelson is more likely to play against Watford, with Emery likely to continue with a front three. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could make use of Lacazette’s absence and play in his preferred role as the central striker. Nicolas Pepe will provide width in attack from the right flank, while Nelson will start out on the left.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac; Guendouzi, Torreira, Ceballos; Pepe, Aubameyang, Nelson