Nicolas Pepe is set to return to the starting lineup when Arsenal pay Norwich City a visit at Carrow Road on Sunday.
Arsenal will be eager to bring an end to their seven-game winless run when they lock horns with Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday afternoon, in what will be their first outing since sacking Unai Emery. And, interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg has a few injury problems to contend with ahead of the Gunners’ latest fixture.
Ljungberg was not appointed in time for him to have his first press conference, but in an interview with the Arsenal website, the Swede was asked about the changes he will make to the system and lineup. Ljungberg, though, is treading water, insisting he will only make subtle changes to begin with.
“Of course small things will change. I’m not going to do anything radical because I don’t think that’s the best thing to do. I’m not going to just go and smash things up. But I’m quite clear with what I think I want to try. At the same time, we have one training session until the game tomorrow so we have to be intelligent with what you try to change because it needs to stick as well.”
Bernd Leno ought to return to the starting lineup, taking his place in goal. The defence, though, poses some concerns for Ljungberg. Rob Holding (knee) and Sead Kolasinac (thigh) seem to have been passed fit to take the field for Arsenal again.
But, David Luiz (bruised ribs), Shkodran Mustafi (ankle) and Hector Bellerin (hamstring) are all facing a race against time to prove their fitness to take on Norwich. The trio will be assessed ahead of the match, although in the case that none of the three are fit to start, the Arsenal interim boss should have just about enough cover in his squad.
Bellerin could start on the right side of the Arsenal defence, with Calum Chambers being Sokratis’s central defensive partner. In the left-back slot, there is no looking past Kieran Tierney, meaning Kolasinac is only likely to find a spot on the bench.
Up ahead in midfield, Dani Ceballos is a definite absentee, though his absence is unlikely to bother Ljungberg all that much. Expected to line his side up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the Arsenal temporary head coach should name Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi in the midfield double pivot, with Granit Xhaka missing out.
As far as attack is concerned, Ljungberg’s comments that he will keep things simple means that the quartet of Mesut Ozil, Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang and Alexandre Lacazette might start together for the first time. Pepe and Aubameyang will be the two wide men, with Ozil playing off central striker Lacazette.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Leno; Bellerin, Chambers, Sokratis, Tierney; Guendouzi, Torreira; Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette