William Saliba will make his competitive debut for Arsenal, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka ought to start when they face Fulham.
After a trophy-laden August, Arsenal will kick off their 2020/21 Premier League campaign with a short trip to Craven Cottage, where they will lock horns with newly-promoted Fulham on Saturday.
Ahead of their season opener, Arsenal have a number of injury issues, with Calum Chambers, Gabriel Martinelli, Shkodran Mustafi and Pablo Mari, who was signed permanently, all ruled out. David Luiz will also miss out owing to a neck problem, while Sokratis and youngster Emile Smith Rowe are among those who miss out as well.
In spite of the number of absentees, it is unlikely to hamper Arteta’s plans for Saturday, with plenty of depth within the squad. The goalkeeping position presents a headache for the Spaniard. Bernd Leno is the first-choice, but Emiliano Martinez performed brilliantly during the German’s absence last term and started in the Community Shield game.
Addressing the matter in his press conference Arteta said, “I think the one that in my opinion is training better with the goalkeeping coach has the better chance to start and my decision will be consistent like that throughout this season.”
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While Martinez has impressed when given the chance, Leno is likely to be reinstated in goal for the Premier League opener against Fulham. He will be shielded by a three-man defence, where there is a possibility of two new faces making their debuts, with both William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes in contention to start.
However, given that Gabriel hasn’t been that long with the team, unlike Saliba, the young Frenchman should get the nod on Saturday to make his competitive debut for Arsenal. Partnering him in the absence of Luiz and Mustafi ought to be Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney.
Hector Bellerin is the first-choice for the right wing-back slot ahead of Cedric Soares, whose loan deal was made permanent. On the opposite flank, Ainsley Maitland-Niles should get the nod after his impressive performance against Liverpool in the FA Community Shield win last month.
Mohamed Elneny has been solid in midfield since returning from his loan spell. However, with Dani Ceballos back at the club for another temporary stint, he should walk right back into the starting XI alongside Granit Xhaka in the centre of the park.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s contract situation still remains unresolved, with the player now in the final year of his deal. Arteta, though, was very optimistic over his star player penning a new deal with the club. “I can say that I am even more confident than I was at the end of last season when you asked me the same question 10 times,” the Arsenal boss said during the presser.
The Gabonese superstar, irrespective of the contract situation, is a certain starter on the left flank. Eddie Nketiah has been preferred over Alexandre Lacazette for the centre-forward role and that is unlikely to change.
Finally, new signing Willian will battle it out with Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka for the right-wing slot. The youngster should get the nod, though, after having impressed in the Community Shield clash.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Leno; Saliba, Holding, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Saka, Nketiah, Aubameyang