Mikel Arteta is set to ring in the changes when Arsenal play hosts to Newcastle United in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Arsenal welcome Newcastle United on Saturday, hoping to kickstart their FA Cup defence on a positive note. The Gunners are in a good run of form, having won all of their last three Premier League matches and are the undisputed favourites heading into this game.
However, Mikel Arteta could make a host of changes to the side that secured a 4-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the last game. The likes of Cedric Soares, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and David Luiz are indeed expected to make their return to the starting eleven.
But on a more positive note, Arsenal could also be boosted by the return of star player Gabriel Magalhaes. The Brazilian has missed the past few matches due to coronavirus. But after finishing his isolation, he is now in contention to feature on Saturday, although the defender’s fitness remains a doubt.
“Only on the successful completion of the necessary protocols and medical checks in the coming days will Gabriel be able to return to full training with the squad,” reads an official statement from Arsenal regarding his fitness. So it is rather reasonable to believe that Shkodran Mustafi might be given the nod, with Gabriel being preserved for the upcoming game against Crystal Palace.
Another player who is likely to return to full fitness this weekend is Thomas Partey. But much like Gabriel, the Ghanaian is unlikely to be rushed back into the starting lineup, thus guaranteeing a place for Mohamed Elneny. The Egyptian international should form the double-pivot alongside Dani Ceballos.
In the attacking department, Arteta could be dealt with a major selection dilemma. Especially in the right-wing slot, Nicolas Pepe and Willian are among options who could replace Bukayo Saka. His job, however, will be eased by the fact that Willian has suffered from illness in recent weeks, making Pepe the favourite to start against Newcastle United.
Gabriel Martinelli, on the other hand, remains almost a guaranteed starter on the left flank. Emile Smith Rowe could make way for Joe Willock in the number ten position, thus completing Arsenal’s creative trifecta. They will look to provide the supply for the lone striker Alexandre Lacazette, although Arteta also has the option of deploying both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well as Eddie Nketiah.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Leno; Cedric, Mustafi, Luiz, Maitland-Niles; Elneny, Ceballos; Pepe, Willock, Martinelli; Lacazette.