Gabriel Martinelli is set to come in for the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when Arsenal take on Sheffield United on Saturday.
Arsenal will be looking to continue their unbeaten run when they play hosts to Sheffield United at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon. And, Mikel Arteta has a number of issues to contend with on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
The biggest news is that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is suspended after being sent off against Crystal Palace last weekend. The Arsenal captain will serve the first of his three-match ban when Sheffield United pay the Gunners a visit.
The other major issue comes in defence, with Arteta at risk of being without each of his recognised full-backs, with Sead Kolasinac a major doubt due to a thigh injury. The Arsenal boss provided an update on the Bosnian as well as Hector Bellerin, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, during his pre-match press conference.
“I don’t know, the doctors are assessing him still – he [Kolasinac] had a normal session yesterday. He has been in some discomfort, we know this season that he had some little niggles, so we have to assess him and see if we can get him fit for Saturday or he will be out.”
“He [Bellerin] has been training with us for the past few days, he is looking much sharper, much better. He needs a little chunk of training sessions before he is ready to compete but he is looking much better.”
Judging by Arteta’s comments, it looks like Bellerin is still not match fit, meaning Ainsley Maitland-Niles starts as Arsenal’s right-back. On the opposite flank, Bukayo Saka could return. Saka’s involvement, though, would depend on the assessment on Kolasinac’s fitness.
David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos will partner up at the heart of the Arsenal defence, with Bernd Leno starting in goal. Up ahead in midfield, Lucas Torreira is facing a race against time to be available for the visit of Sheffield United. Arteta provided an update on the Uruguayan.
“Very similar situation. He trained yesterday as well, but still not 100 per cent confident so we will have to wait and see again. It is something related to his hip, producing some pain in the muscle. I don’t know. He is a tough boy, he wants to train, he wants to play and hopefully he will be available for the weekend.”
Amid a fixture congestion, Arteta could give Torreira a breather, with Matteo Guendouzi starting in his stead in the midfield double pivot alongside Granit Xhaka. In attack, Gabriel Martinelli is in contention to replace Aubameyang. Arteta commented on Aubameyang’s suspension, meanwhile.
“It has been confirmed that he is going to be suspended for three games. So we’re not going to have the player for the next three fixtures. It’s a big shame and a big loss for us, because as well we know Auba’s intention when he plays. But unfortunately he mistimed the tackle, he made a decision and we have to accept it.”
Martinelli should pip Reiss Nelson to the left wing slot, with Nicolas Pepe a certain starter on the opposite flank. Mesut Ozil will reprise the no. 10 role, while Alexandre Lacazette, likely to don the armband for Arsenal, will lead the line against Sheffield United.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Saka; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli; Lacazette