Bukayo Saka is tipped to return to the starting lineup for Arsenal as they lock horns with Liverpool at the Emirates on Wednesday evening.
Arsenal are aiming to bounce back to winning form as they host Liverpool on Saturday evening. It could be a must-win game for the Gunners after failing to seal all three points in any of their last two Premier League matches.
Heading into this game, Mikel Arteta has signalled that he may rest some key players following a strenuous schedule. In addition, he has Mesut Ozil back in contention, although the German is subjected to face a late fitness test.
“I don’t know. At the moment, the situation remains the same. We will see if that changes,” Arteta told reporters, in his pre-match online press conference when asked if Ozil will play again this season.
For this game, however, the Arsenal boss could opt for a largely unchanged back-line with Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz and Sead Kolasinac starting just ahead of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. Sokratis is a risky option over Kolasinac due to his lack of game-time since the restart while Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers and Bernd Leno are all out injured.
Speaking of Leno, his deputy Martinez has done an excellent job between the sticks – something that was echoed by Arteta himself in the lead up to this game. “He’s earned his place now, he’s doing really well, and he’s playing with a lot of confidence. In key moments he’s been really helpful, and he needs to continue to do that,” he said, when asked about Martinez’s form.
Elsewhere, there might be a change in the left wing-back slot, where Kieran Tierney is expected to get a breather. It could pave the way for Bukayo Saka to return to the starting lineup while Hector Bellerin is pretty much a guaranteed starter, ahead of winter signing Cedric, on the opposite flank.
Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos are undisputed starters in central midfield, having played exceptionally well, even in the recent defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. Their work-rate, tenacity and quality could be key in dealing with Liverpool’s famed midfield trio.
In attack, Arteta is missing out on the services of Eddie Nketiah after the youngster picked up a straight red card against Leicester City. Nketiah has joined Gabriel Martinelli in Arsenal’s list of absentees in the attacking department.
Hence, we are likely to an unchanged lineup in the final third, with Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang retaining their places out on either flank, while Alexandre Lacazette will spearhead the Arsenal attack.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Martinez; Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Xhaka, Ceballos, Saka; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang