Sead Kolasinac is likely to come in the side for Bukayo Saka while Alexandre Lacazette will lead the line when Arsenal take on Newcastle United.
Arsenal will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways when they play hosts to Newcastle United at the Emirates on Sunday evening. And, manager Mikel Arteta has received a fitness boost coming back from the winter break.
Sead Kolasinac is in contention to start after recovering from a thigh injury, while Bukayo Saka, who sustained a minor knee injury last time out against Burnley, is fit as well. Reiss Nelson, too, is in contention after overcoming his own fitness problem.
Arsenal, though, will be missing out on the services of January arrival Pablo Mari, who continues to build up match fitness and misses out against Newcastle. During his pre-match press conference, Arteta spoke about the central defender.
“Pablo has not competed since the end of December I think, he had a little issue, but he has been training with us the last week or so, in and out a little bit, but he has been looking good. I think this game will come a little bit too early for him but I expect him to start joining the squad in the next week or so.”
The absence of Mari does not hurt much, though, with David Luiz and the in-form Shkodran Mustafi set to continue at the heart of the Arsenal defence. Hector Bellerin picks himself as the right-back while on the opposite flank, Kolasinac is likely to come in for Saka. Bernd Leno is the obvious choice in goal.
Up ahead in midfield, Granit Xhaka is a certainty, having turned his form and fortunes around since Arteta was appointed as the Arsenal boss. Who partners Xhaka remains the big question, though. Matteo Guendouzi has been preferred in the last couple of games and should get the nod over Lucas Torreira once again.
Another dilemma that Arteta faces is in attack. Alexandre Lacazette has been in miserable form of late and with Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang available, Arteta does have an alternative. Should Aubameyang lead the line against Newcastle, Nicolas Pepe could return.
However, Arteta has showed that he has faith in Lacazette, meaning the Frenchman could be the central striker for Arsenal. Aubameyang will, thus, start out on the left flank again, with Gabriel Martinelli likely to get the nod over Pepe on the right. Mesut Ozil will reprise the No. 10 role, playing off Lacazette.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Martinelli, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette