Granit Xhaka and David Luiz are set to return to the starting lineup when Arsenal take on Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Freddie Ljungberg will be eager to end his time as Arsenal’s caretaker manager on a high when the Gunners lock horns with Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon. And, the interim boss has greeted a mixed bag of news ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
Ljungberg did not conduct a press conference, since Mikel Arteta was appointed as the new Arsenal manager on Friday. It was Arteta who met the press on Friday, but the Spaniard will only be watching from the stands at Everton on Saturday.
Ljungberg, on the other hand sat down for an interview with Arsenal’s website and the Swede was asked to comment about his experience managing the first-team these last few weeks. He said, “It’s been a great experience. I’ve been extremely honoured to be the interim manager for this great, great club.”
“Of course, everybody knows, it’s been difficult circumstances, confidence has been low. Unfortunately we’ve had many injuries, but that’s life. For me, the main job has just been trying to steady the ship and help as much as I possibly can. I feel honoured to have been able to do that.”
There are no concerns whatsoever in the goalkeeping department, meaning Bernd Leno will line up between the sticks once again for Arsenal. In front of Leno, however, there could be a shift in formation, with Ljungberg expected to prefer a 4-3-3 in order to add more numbers in midfield.
Hector Bellerin will be assessed ahead of the game and if passed fit, the Spaniard should start on the right side of the Arsenal defence. If Bellerin is unable to recover in time, Calum Chambers will be the visitors’ right-back. Meanwhile, Ainsley Maitland-Niles is a certain starter on the left, with natural left-back Sead Kolasinac (ankle) and Kieran Tierney (shoulder) both sidelined.
Bellerin’s availability will also determine Arsenal’s central defensive pairing against Everton. In the case that Bellerin is fit, Chambers will partner David Luiz at the heart of the defence. If not, Shkodran Mustafi could be drafted in to accompany Luiz, with Sokratis suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend against Manchester City.
Up ahead in midfield, Granit Xhaka is fit to return after missing the last two games due to concussion. Xhaka will likely sit at the base of the three-man midfield, with Joe Willock and Matteo Guendouzi expected to complete the trifecta.
Mesut Ozil is a major doubt due to a foot injury and might only be fit enough to start on the bench. Even so, the change in formation would have meant that there was no place for him in the starting lineup, with Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli expected to man the flanks. Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will lead the line against Everton.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Leno; Bellerin, Chambers, Luiz, Maitland-Niles; Guendouzi, Xhaka, Willock; Pepe, Aubameyang, Martinelli