Bukayo Saka is back in contention as Arsenal lock horns with West Ham United at the London Stadium on Sunday.
Arsenal take on West Ham on Sunday, hoping to make a late surge in the Premier League table. The Gunners, though, are coming on the back of a strenuous midweek fixture in the UEFA Europa League against Olympiacos, so Mikel Arteta will be tempted to ring in the changes.
“We know we will have a really tough game, they’ve been in great form, they’ve been really consistent, they know really well what to do and how to hurt opponents. I know David really well and I am sure he will prepare the match so it is a really difficult game for us.”, said the Spaniard when asked about his opponents during the pre-match press conference.
One of the biggest positives for Arsenal heading into this game is the return of Bukayo Saka. The young prodigy has recovered from his hamstring injury and is available for selection, although it remains unlikely that Arteta would want to rush him back into the starting eleven.
“During this week, Bukayo has responded well to treatment, has participated in training and is now available for selection,” the club said in an official statement.
Another injured player in Willian, though, remains a doubt in regards to his fitness, which means Arsenal may want to continue with Nicolas Pepe on the right flank while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang starts on the opposite flank, ultimately paving the way for Alexandre Lacazette to spearhead the attack.
The Frenchman was impressive in the north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, but things could get challenging against a physically astute West Ham side.
Speaking of which, it is imperative for Arsenal to not only rely on technically gifted midfielders, especially against the likes of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek. Fortunately for them, Thomas Partey is likely to return, thus renewing his midfield partnership alongside Granit Xhaka while Martin Odegaard should operate as the lone attacking midfielder.
The combative nature of the former Atletico Madrid star is sure to put up a strong challenge for the West Ham duo, and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top this weekend.
After all, the outcome of this personal duel in midfield should play a key role in offering adequate protection for the central defensive combination of Gabriel Magalhaes and David Luiz as well as the goalkeeper Bernd Leno, in extension.
Elsewhere in defence, Kieran Tierney should retain his role at left-back, while Arteta’s rotation policy may force Hector Bellerin to make way for Cedric Soares on the opposite flank.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Leno; Cedric, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Pepe, Odegaard, Aubameyang; Lacazette